Monday, February 09, 2009

Book: The Graveyard Book

There are already so many lovely reviews of this book, I won't go into the grand overview. You can read Nymeth's, and I know so many others have reviewed it (if you have, please let me know and I'll reference you!).

Anyway (well, I guess you need at least the tiniest bit of introduction): This is the story of a little boy named Nobody Owens, whose parents were viciously killed, and, through a curious turn of events, he is raised in a graveyard, whose ghostly inhabitants adopt him.

First things first: of course I loved it! It's Neil Gaiman, it's about a graveyard, it's got good scary beasties, it's very loosely based on The Jungle Book, and the writing was lyrical and effective (as always, from Gaiman).
I have to confess something, though: I loved Coraline better.

I was genuinely freaked out by Coraline, and I thought the story was cleaner and more direct, and I thought the Other Mother was about the scariest thing I'd encountered in a very long time.
I thought that The Graveyard Book was beautiful, and obviously written with a lot of love and heart, but I didn't feel quite as transported as I did while reading Coraline. That said, it was still a wonderful book.

I think Silas was my favorite character. Tall and foreboding, protective but mysterious, and so full of honor (as only those who know what true evil and dishonor are can be). I found the scenes with him the most touching -- especially the end, where I completely got choked up and almost cried. Probably would have, except it was very late and I was very tired.

I also thought the danse macabre was startlingly beautiful. What I did very much appreciate about this book was the layers of meaning and mystery. As with many of Gaiman's books, you can choose to simply read and enjoy the story, or you can work your mind a little and figure out all the little riddles and hints that he drops all over the place. All the men Jack, the Macabray, Nobody (no-body), the Indigo Man, etc. I always love it when there is backstory to be explored.

I will definitely want to reread this in a few years (I like to wait a long time before rereading books; that way they feel fresh again). Then I can be like Scarlett, and think to myself, "I almost remember this... and then, I think... this happens... does it? Yes! I have been here before!"

Other people have written that they want to hear more about Bod. However, I disagree. I'd like to hear more about Silas, but I didn't really find Bod so compelling in himself. I found the story swirling all around him extremely compelling -- but to me, the real mystery, the one who created the most questions in my mind, was Silas.

So. (dusting off hands) Very satisfying. What's next?


Nymeth said...

I agree that Coraline was scarier...this one was more tender than scary, really. And yes, Silas was awesome! Danse Macabre was probably my favourite chapter. I'm so glad you loved it too :)

Stefanie said...

Oh, I've got to read this!

Susan said...

You liked all the things I did too! And I agreed on my blog that Coraline was scarier. that said, I ended up sneaking The Graveyard Book onto my year's best reads anyway, so they both made it. Od ends up haunting you (or he does me), and I really want to know about Silas, as you say. What a fascinating character. And the Danse Macabre - sheer loveliness. Good review, Daphne! I'll find my link and send it to you.

Carl V. said...

I'm not sure the point of Graveyard Book was to be scary, I think it was exactly what it was supposed to be, a tender coming-of-age story set in an unconventional setting with unconventional characters. And as such it was absolutely wonderful. I read it and then turned right around and bought the audio book and listened to Neil read it to me. It is an experience I highly recommend. I have heard people talk about a sequel but honestly I hope there isn't one. I love the story for what it is, appreciate the mystery of Silas and others, but I think Bod's story was told and I like it left as it is. It is bittersweet and melancholic and perfect.

As for Silas, I would love to see his character crop up in an additional story at some point so that we could learn more about him that way.

And I am with the rest of you, Danse Macbre was a beautiful chapter.