20 November 2009

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2008 Pages: 307
Genre: YAL, SFF

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
The man Jack failed in his mission to kill the boy, lost him in a graveyard, which is where this boy stays.  Called Bod, short for Nobody, this boy lives between worlds, a graveyard where strange beasts live in deep hills, ghoul-gates guard other worlds, and young girls come to play. But Bod is alive and belongs in the world of a living, a place he can not go because some still want him dead.

My Thoughts
I caved.  I completely, utterly, and uncontrollably caved.  I had promised myself - no buying books.  I have more books in my TBR pile than most have in their homes, so I was determined to get through a large chunk of them before buying a book.  But everywhere I turned, there were wonderful reviews of this book. And I thought, well it does count for like three of my challenges, and I do so love Gaiman, and then I caved.  Just this one book, I promised myself.  Then at the bookstore, three other books managed to jump into my hands...but more on that later.  Back to this book.

While many gushed compliments like the Las Vegas Bellagio Fountains, my compliments are a bit more tempered.  I enjoyed the book, absolutely enjoyed it, but when it comes to Gaiman, I'm a bigger fan of American Gods, Good Omens, and the like.  As a rule, I enjoy 'adult' books more than 'kids' books. 

The Graveyard Book, a kid's book, tells a wonderful story in a unique setting with memorable characters.  I felt a part of the graveyard community, found myself wanting Freedom of the Graveyard, and more than anything I wanted to know more....more, more, more.  The mini-plots and adventures ended too soon and begged for more detail, the characters cried out for further exposition; I wanted backstory, mini-plots rich in detail and action, intricate weavings of history and present.  In other words, I wanted something that isn't a kids book.  I do think it is a mark of a master creator for a book to capture me so intensely that I don't want it to end, that I am unsatisfied with what I've been given.

Question Do you find yourself disappointed with books that made you want more or do you find this a mark of a good read?

Memorable Scene: *PLOT SPOILER* I can't get the end scene out of my head.  The image of Bod leaving the graveyard in burned in my mind.  It is a moment bittersweet and yet filled with such potential.

Memorable Quote: You're always you, and that don't change; and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it. ~ I love the seeming contradiction in this quote; it's obviously perfectly correct and perfectly contradictory at the same time.

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!
The Zen Leaf; Page247; Rebecca Reads; Stainless Steel Droppings; things mean a lot; Books & Other Thoughts; Bart's Bookshelf; Fizzy Thoughts; Becky's Book Reviews; Fyrefly's Book Blog; Books of Mee; Multi-Genre FanPuss Reboots;


Challenges: The Dream King Challenge, 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge100+ Reading Challenge,


  1. The answer to your question is yes - which is why I didn't like the book as much as others did. My review is here, and while I loved the characters I really was disappointed with the plot. There were a lot of good things about the book - but not enough meat to be satisfying.

  2. I have yet to like Gaiman's adult fiction, but i hope that will change.

  3. I though the book had just what it needed. My review is here.

  4. I know the scene you're talking about-- it almost made me cry!

    I really enjoyed this as it was my first experience with one of Gaiman's children's books, so it was neat to see how else his writing could take form. I am still partial to his adult novels though :)

  5. I am very intrigued with this book! Uh-oh ... another book temptation. As my Presbyterian grandma used to say ... get the behind me, Satan! :-D

  6. I've never read Gaiman, but have American Gods as the one I want to start with. What do you think?

  7. Jen - I sort of felt the same.

    Amanda - I wonder if Gaiman has two camps of people?

    Puss - That seems to be the consensus.

    She - Yay for the adult books!

    Stephanie - I was adamant in my refusal to not buy this book for quite some time, and then bam! I gave in.

    Stacy - I really liked American Gods, but it's pretty weighty to start with. I would suggest Good Omens as a starting point.

  8. I liked it: perfect for a kids book. I haven't read any adult Gaiman novels, so can't comment on that. This was my only experience!

  9. Rebecca - I agree. It's such a wonderful story for kids. You should read more Gaiman!

  10. I've read some great reviews of this book, but haven't caved to the pressure yet.

  11. I tend to be a bigger fan of Gaiman's childrens/juvenile fiction. I read American Gods and didn't like it so much, and I wasn't bowled over the Sandman. I will read more of his adult offerings, but for now Coraline and The Graveyard Book remain faves. The "Danse Macabre" chapter was especially beautiful. I really need to own a copy of this one to share with the stepkiddos. They'd loooove it.

  12. Serena - The pressure is rather intense out there; I kept seeing it around and had to find out what the fuss was all about.

    Andi - It is so funny how people are on either side of the issue; I'd never even considered it before this post.

  13. I so agree with you on the ending and that excerpt. I actually read the short story the book was based on recently in an anthology. It wasn't a great short story. Bod was better in book form.

  14. Cara - I didn't even know it was based on a short story -ech, I'm terrible.


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