10 January 2010

Books: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2008)

In The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman’s second foray into children's literature behind Coraline, is a riff on Kipling’s The Jungle Book. A young boy survives an attempt on his life -his father, mother and older sister are murdered by the man Jack - and is brought up by the ghosts in the graveyard down from his home. Among the dead are teachers, workers, wealthy prigs, romantics, pragmatists and even a few children -so it takes a graveyard village to raise a child. Here Nobody Owens -Bod for short - has adventures as grows, making friends with in the cemetery -some who are not dead - and learning about his past and his future.

Over the years, he encounters hideous ghouls, a witch, middle school bullies and an otherworldly fraternal order that holds the secret to his family’s murder. As arrives into his teens things change, and the story picks up as he learns why he’s been in the graveyard all this time and what he needs to do to leave.

At times magical and terrifying, it is filled with breathtaking adventure. And while Bod makes quite a few careless and sometimes thoughtless mistakes, you don’t feel particularly inclined to throttle him because of them. And while it’s a fantasy for young adults, this sly story will enthrall anyone who wants a good book

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