Hugo: The Graveyard Book (2009)

1 minute

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Read September 9, 2010 – September 12, 2010

Premise: A little boy’s entire family is killed and he wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts decide to raise him.

Verdict: I loved the whole idea of this book. I loved the story, the characters, the whole mood and feel of the thing. It’s a kid’s book, yeah, and I could’ve done without the illustrations, which I felt were distracting. But it’s a kid’s book, big deal. The main character’s name is Nobody Owens and he’s raised by a graveyard full of ghosts who teach him things about being dead and the knowledge from their time periods etc (it amuses me to think of an eight year old being taught about Renaissance Humours). But, somehow, I always feel like Gaiman loses steam at the end. All of his books that I’ve read just sort of peter out. This novel was sort of an exception but not quite. The ending was satisfactory and I didn’t feel cheated, like usual, but it was just so easy and obvious for me to figure out what was going to happen three or four pages before it did that it lost momentum for me and I just wanted him to get it over with. I don’t know if this is maybe because it’s a book for young adults, or if it’s just that Gaiman and I don’t jive. Who knows. I did enjoy this novel. I thought it was clever, amusing, and somehow real. The cleverest things were actually peripheral to the main storyline—namely who killed Bod’s family and the creatures who were hunting down the killers. I won’t give anything away, but I love when people personify and mythologize common expressions and word play.

When it comes to Neil Gaiman, I adore the worlds he creates, I love his stories, his writing itself is beautiful, and the mood and feel of his worlds is superb… a combination of the way Tim Burton and Roger Corman make me feel, but in a book—so it’s even better. But I just can’t seem to love him the way everyone else does. Something always rubs me a bit wrong with his books. Sorry, Neil. I love you. Mostly.

Sufficient. Gaiman and I seem always to be fighting. But this book was fun, fast, and clever.