Friday, February 6, 2009

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - 2009 Newbery Award Winner

2009 Newbery Award Winner - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I realize I may be one of the last people to finish this book - my co-worker, Nieves, has been trying to get me to read it since it first came out (congratulations to her for reading a book before me and being the first to gush about it!) - but I finally finished it last night and so am here to tell you all about it.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Hardcover: 9780060530921 $17.99

Great book! Am thrilled it won the award! Enough said!

(he he, just kidding)

Honestly, though, it was a great read. Completely engaging; kids are going to love this Newbery. (Unlike winners of previous years, and the rather recent discussions about the lack of kid street cred given to those winners...hmmm...I wonder if that influenced a decision at all?)

The Graveyard Book grabs you from the first moment and maintains a steady interest throughout the story. What's fascinating, and is one of the reasons Gaiman is such a genius, is that it's a rather morbid, even slightly horrific base story, yet the book is not a scary read. Perhaps this is because Bod - Nobody Owens, the main character - seems to know no fear.

Barely escaping murder as an infant (by the nefarious Jack, of the notorious Jack-of-all-Trades organization), Bod has been raised by ghosts and his guardian Silas (not alive but not dead), in the Old Town graveyard. Bod grows up, having all sorts of wonderful and peculiar adventures, mostly in his graveyard: like visiting the Indigo Man - the oldest being buried in the graveyard; learning about ghouls, ghoul-gates, and night-gaunts, first-hand; making friends with witches; and being taught various lessons by long-dead ghosts and a werewolf. On the few occasions he ventures outside of the graveyard - to run away, to go to school, to find out more about his family's murder - the world is not a safe place for him and he ends up getting into tricky situations.

Even in these various scrapes, Bod keeps his cool, and uses his wits to outsmart everyone from the ghouls to the Jacks. An interesting plot thread, to me, was Bod's complete willingness and interest in ridding the world of the threat of the man who had killed his parents. Even before the climactic confrontation scene, you get the sense that this doesn't necessarily mean Bod is looking forward to killing Jack, or engaging him in any sort of fight, really, yet he is determined to get rid of him. The ingenious way Bod accomplishes this is a masterful stroke of tying in plot points and making use of Bod's unique character.

The end of the book itself is filled with hope. This may sound odd for a book which takes place primarily among the dead, but it seems that having grown up with the dead gives Bod a special appreciation for actually living life to its fullest. Have to admit, I'm kind of hoping for a sequel - Bod in the world. Somehow, though I've closed last page, I haven't quite closed my thoughts on Bod's adventures.

-Rebecca

To read an interview with Neil Gaiman, check out this post on my own blog here.
To find out more about this book, check out Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book website here.

1 comment:

Vatsal said...

what are the 5 main events of graveyard