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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book (original 2008; edition 2010)

by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator)

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12,736898186 (4.19)1 / 1034
bplteen's review
Review by: Courtney P

  bplteen | Apr 27, 2012 |
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I am an unapologetic Gaiman fan. His books are layered up bits of goodness: cohesive, imaginative plots acted out by compelling characters with solid themes underneath it all. What I appreciate most, however, is his prose, which always reads rather slyly. He treats the most unusual plot twists with a completely straight face, which brings us all in on the joke. A boy raised by dead people? Sure. Why not? Seems perfectly normal to me.

This is more straightforward than his other novels, probably because it's intended for a middle-grade audience, but that doesn't detract in any way. It is beautifully written, funny and tragic in turns (or at the same time) and just really enjoyable. I'd recommend this to anyone age 10 and up (possibly even 8, depending on the kids' ability to handle scary situations). Like with Coraline, I can't wait until my kids are old enough to read this. ( )
  CherieDooryard | Jan 20, 2015 |
Imagine a city painted in the dull, grayscale watercolors of a city eternally at dawn and rained on. It is in this landscape that we watch as Nobody “Bod” Owens comes of age. As a toddler, Bod escaped the clutches of a hitman who had just killed his parents and sister by crawling up a hill to the gates of a graveyard. There the kind denizens and Silas, his dark and silent guardian, took him under their wing and granted him the Freedom of the Graveyard, where he gains protection from the outside world and learns to be as ghostly as one made of flesh can be. Throughout the book, a variety of mystical and intriguing characters are introduced, such as the world of ghouls and Ms. Lupescu, a Hound of God. Each chapter presents a new adventure of Bod’s life and although these chapters connect into a broad narrative as a whole, they can feel a little disjointed. Much of that feeling comes from the desire to learn more about the characters and settings introduced in the book; new ideas will be presented, but without a satisfying amount of depth of detail. In this way, while interesting the book can feel a little unfulfilling. Additionally, the book can feel slow paced at times, but the degree to which the narrative comes to life nonetheless makes it feel more like a lilting song than a truly slow and boring story. This book would surely delight children who enjoy supernatural stories as it follows the vein of horror and macabre without ever feeling too adult or scary. Recommend additional purchase. Ages 10 and up. ( )
  kornelas1 | Dec 3, 2014 |
This enchanting novel cloaks its exploration of family and independence in the trappings of a horror story to appeal to young readers and adults alike. The story follows Bod, whose family was murdered when he was a baby by an agent of a shadowy organization. Bod is adopted by the ghosts who live in a nearby graveyard, and he grows up there, learning the secrets of the undead. When Bod is older, the assassin returns, accompanied by other agents of his organization. Bod uses his knowledge of the graveyard to dispose of the assassins and protect the graveyard, but now that he has proven that he can be self-sufficient, Bod must leave the graveyard and make his own way. The prose oscillates between the lyrical and frank, and the twisted black ink illustrations lend a creepiness to the text, though they do not add to the narration. The story balances violence and death with love and friendship. Not all of the mysteries Gaiman introduces are explained, creating a sustained sense of wonder throughout. The reading level is suitable to young readers, but the sophisticated themes and compelling story will appeal to children and adults. Highly Recommended. Grade 7+. ( )
  kottenbrookk | Nov 30, 2014 |
This book is one of the best I have EVER read, and I say that without hyperbole. I am still teary-eyed, and I cannot hope to capture the amazing feelings the stories left me with -- for make no mistake, while this book is a novel, it is also a collection of wonderful short stories. And since Neil Gaiman, IMO, shines when he writes short stories, it should not surprise me in the least that this book was so perfect.

I will be forever grateful to the librarian who handed me this book when I simply went it to get a copy of "M is for Magic" for a book club reading. Thank you every so much! ( )
  ladypembroke | Nov 22, 2014 |
I never thought I'd say this about any book written by Neil Gaiman, but I wasn't very fond of this one. The beginning was really slow and dragged a bit. It was actually somewhat dull until the last few chapters. It picked up by the end, but not enough to give it more than maybe a three and a half star rating. It was a very neat concept, and I adored the characters, but it just didn't do enough with the potential, maybe. I'm not completely sure what it was. I just know that I was kinda bored while reading it throughout the entire first half of the book. Maybe I need to avoid his children's books and just read his adult fare from now on. Yet I adored Coraline. I just don't get it. Makes me sad to say all this, but I wanted to be honest. Sorry. ( )
1 vote VampAmber | Nov 6, 2014 |
Like ghostly watercolors, Gaiman paints glowing images in eight chapters (and an interlude) touching on themes of death, family, and coming of age in this young adult novel. For those familiar with his work, you'll likely find enjoyment in the master storyteller's craft. Some readers might not enjoy the book simply because it's more young than they are adult, and that's an understandable complaint. The book shines in spite of it's flaws and weaknesses, of which there are many. Writing is a demanding art, and it's techniques not easily mastered. But the author's pure ability to simply tell a story is without question, and often without equal. I enjoyed the book, but was not challenged by it. I doubt a younger person will be challenged by it either, but they might be captivated. Worth Reading. ( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
Like ghostly watercolors, Gaiman paints glowing images in eight chapters (and an interlude) touching on themes of death, family, and coming of age in this young adult novel. For those familiar with his work, you'll likely find enjoyment in the master storyteller's craft. Some readers might not enjoy the book simply because it's more young than they are adult, and that's an understandable complaint. The book shines in spite of it's flaws and weaknesses, of which there are many. Writing is a demanding art, and it's techniques not easily mastered. But the author's pure ability to simply tell a story is without question, and often without equal. I enjoyed the book, but was not challenged by it. I doubt a younger person will be challenged by it either, but they might be captivated. Worth Reading. ( )
1 vote wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
Book used for Fantasy or Science Fiction novel assignment. ( )
  kberryman44 | Nov 4, 2014 |
I really loved this book, which is probably why this review is hard to write, because there were so many things that I loved about it. I had never read a Neil Gaiman book before this, and I am very excited to have discovered this author. He is a wonderful author, who writes fantasy that inspires readers. He has the ability to take a dark subject like death and murder, and give a sense of beauty.

This book is about an orphan growing up in a graveyard, and this seemed a little morbid to me at first, but once I started reading the book, I did not feel that way anymore. Instead of reading about the lonely life of an orphan, I read a book about the loving way the graveyard and it's inhabitants adopted an orphaned toddler and raised him into a young man. This really supported the message of the story: It takes a graveyard to raise a child. By the end of the book I came to love all of the characters in this book. One part of the book that I really liked was that Neil Gaiman introduced a new ghost or other character by telling the reader what was on their tombstone. This really helped me to get to know the different characters.

The illustrations in the book was also something that I loved. At the beginning of each chapter there were illustrations that related to what would happen in the coming chapters. These illustrations gave me a sense of what was going to happen. Overall, I really loved everything in this book, the mood, the story, the writing, and the narrator. This is highly recommended ( )
  sreinh2 | Nov 2, 2014 |
I’ve always wanted to read a Neil Gaiman book. I thought this would be an appropriate October/Halloween read. Overall, The Graveyard Book might’ve been a weird one to start with or maybe all of his books are a bit weird. We’ll see. . . with time.

There were illustrations throughout the book that were actually pretty cool. This may seem like a random thing to notice, but there were illustrations in each chapter. I think it added more to the story and it definitely made it one of the more unique books that I’ve read.

The story itself was a bit strange, but also very interesting. It’s not every day that you read about a boy growing up in a graveyard while being raised by ghosts and what I assume were a vampire and werewolf (but those last 2 were never confirmed with any kind of absolution). The author introduces readers to all sorts in The Graveyard Book. In addition to Nobody (terrible name, by the way) readers are introduced to ghosts from all time periods and a witch, not to mention some interesting and horrible humans.

The characters themselves were pretty cool. I love learning about history through the eyes of historical figures that were actually there (obviously I mean this through books, tv and movies). Our main character, Bod, was not what I expected from the beginning. His reaction to different situations was different than one might expect if they were raised normally. I loved the supernatural elements woven throughout The Graveyard Book. It was truly fantastic.

The Graveyard Book was a decent choice for my first Neil Gaiman book, if not a strange choice. I would recommend The Graveyard Book and I would give it an even higher recommendation if you’re planning to share it with your kids. I’m looking forward to my next Gaiman experience.

For more reviews, check out http://reviewsinapinch.com/ today! ( )
  ReviewsInAPinch | Oct 31, 2014 |
I know this book is beloved by all that read it, but I just couldn't finish reading. This is not the first time I've tried to read THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. There is just something about the story I feel is forced upon us. Like the reader should just accept that a baby--and then a teenager--is raised by spirits and never tries to leave. I wish I felt differently about this story, because I do enjoy Neil Gaiman's other books. ( )
  kissedbyink | Oct 31, 2014 |
This book didn't really grab me. I found the same thing when I read Gaiman's other children's book Coraline as well. I'm not sure why they don't as both are raved about. This book won the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal and is a Hugo Award Winner for Best Novel. That's suppose to say something. But I guess it's just not my cup of tea. Certainly not a bas book. It's good writing and an interesting story... Oh well. We are have some of those books that just don't do it for us. I'm not giving up on Gaiman yet since he has many adult books that I have yet to pick up. But I'm not sure I'll return to his children books. ( )
  Kassilem | Oct 27, 2014 |
I guess I got too attached to this book... It is just so great, the intense emotions that the story provokes in each chapter are actually hard to describe. Although the writing might look a bit too simply for some people's taste, I think it was beautiful, the reader is given descriptions enough to depict the settings and the characters and the relationships between them without interfering with the events' progress. It's funny, dark, charming and it's brilliant. ( )
  Araceli.Arias | Oct 24, 2014 |
The Graveyard book- In the beginning, there was a man named Jack Frost. Jack was like a serial killer,and one who scared the town. Jack had just killed the mom, the dad and the sister, all he had left to do was to kill the toddler. Once Jack had gone into the toddlers room,Jack discovered that the child wasn't in it's crib nor ibn it's room. This toddler could get out of anything. SERIOUSLY he could. The toddler had climed over his crib and scouted down the staires and lost his diper. Then, the todler wondered down to the graveyard.There was a couple named the Owen's, and they found the baby and hid it from Jack.
Then everyone wanted to give the toddler a name, and then everyone said he looks like this person and that should be his name. Then isles said we should give this child a different name, so he can say protected. Isles is like Nobody's guardian, his protector.They came up with the name Nobody. Nobody is short for bud. Nobody has the freedom of the graveyard. Bud one day,learned the alphabet, and other school thing.That same day Bud met a girl named, Scarlett. Scarlett and Bud played in the graveyard. Bud always wondered why he couldn't go outside of the graveyard. Bud and Scarlett went into the catacombs on the top of the hill, their Bud saw a tattooed man, then it vanished. In the end Bud started loosing his privileges and went into the world by himself, without any ghost people ( )
  Emmac.B1 | Oct 24, 2014 |
The Graveyard Book. By Neil Gaiman. With illustrations by David McKean. HarperCollins. 2008. 309 pages. $18.89 hbk. 978-0060530938. Grades 4-9.

In his infancy, Nobody Owens’s family is murdered – and he is subsequently taken in by ghosts who raise him in their graveyard abode. Nobody – affectionately known as “Bod” – learns to navigate his place in the world, with help from a whole host of ghosts (and a few other creatures of the night) who love him like family. As such a beginning might suggest, The Graveyard Book is interwoven with a dark undercurrent of mystery and intrigue: ultimately Bod must face his past in order to live in the present. Though The Graveyard Book is quite long, Gaiman’s clear prose and controlled vocabulary make it a good chapter book for older elementary and middle-school students in search of a novel read, and perhaps even older elementary students who are not afraid of ghosts, graveyards, and foul deeds like murder: a clear “good vs. evil” dynamic allows the work to reach the elementary audience looking for a linguistically-advanced read. Occasional monochromatic illustrations, whose high contrast is in keeping with the graveyard theme, help heighten the sensory experience. The Graveyard Book offers a frank and appealing portrayal of a young boy caught between two worlds –metaphorical implications that will be understood by the book’s young target readers as they begin to navigate an ever widening world. Recommended. ( )
  tierneyc | Oct 23, 2014 |
  mshampson | Oct 15, 2014 |
I feel like a Gaiman Gush fountain but it was beautiful and awesome. I'll admit I was hesitant to read it at first because I thought it was more of a kids book but it was very matter the fact. While not adult it definitely didn't talk down to the potential child reader. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  lushrain | Sep 29, 2014 |
This is a lovely quick read.

As usual Gaiman tells a wonderful fairy tale like story that makes you hate it when the story ends the world closes. ( )
  blatherlikeme | Sep 28, 2014 |
This was great fun. The graveyard is peopled with interesting characters and the author's introduction of the ghosts with the use of their epitaphs is clever. Other fascinating details used throughout the story lent it a warm, whimsical feel. Truly a delightful read. ( )
  penelopemarzec | Sep 26, 2014 |
Lots of people were thrilled about this book saying it was spectacular and whatnot.
I was a bit disappointed after reading this book, it didn't really fulfil my expectations.
But it was a good coming of age story and it had the unique twist that made it fun and quirky.
I liked this book a lot and I read it in about 2 sitting but for me it wasn't all that spectacular. ( )
  lisa.isselee | Sep 26, 2014 |
This is the first Neil Gaiman book I have read and I’m sad to say I’m disappointed. Though it’s highly regarded I found it to be rather boring. I was tempted to abandon it after 50 pages but I persevered. The only reason why I’m giving this two stars instead of one is that the original idea was good and there were parts that drew me in but then it always lost me again.

The story was disjointed and episodic in nature. It went off in different directions that were either not resolved or unsatisfactorily explained. The lack of realism in the fact that I doubt a baby could crawl out of its cot, out of the house and down the road into a graveyard at what must have been lightening speed not to be caught by the man Jack, was ill conceived. Also the reason for Bod’s family’s death didn’t seem feasible or at least wasn’t revealed in enough detail, especially the workings of the Jack-of-all-trades.

It's almost as if Gaiman's popularity (and therefore money-making ability) meant that the publishers rushed to publish this book without so much as glancing at it first, when really they should've hired a team of editors to help whip it into shape fit enough for public consumption.

I feel this will serve better as a movie rather than a book. I hear it has been recently picked up by writer/director Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire, The Company of Wolves) and is due out in 2011. I look forward to seeing how he transfers The Graveyard Book to the silver screen hopefully updating and expanding on this poor book.
( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
The Graveyard book...sounds pretty boring/scary, right? Well, your wrong because this story is about venturing out of your human cocoon and seeing what the outside world is like. Even if that means you have to keep running away from some scary dude who keeps trying to kill you(keep in mind that he already killed your parents). Oh yeah, even if all you knew came from a couple of ghosts. what would you do if you had no idea who you were? How about the fact that your name is Nobody? How would you feel? Would you continue to survive? Read...if you dare. ( )
  JaFi14 | Sep 22, 2014 |
I am pretty much in love with Neil Gaiman now. If the lovely book hadn't done so, his Newbery acceptance speech pretty much clinched it.

"We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best as we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write."

That just warms my hard little heart. ( )
  amy_marie26 | Sep 8, 2014 |
Probably my favorite Gaiman book. The Graveyard book takes place in a graveyard. It is about a little boy who is taken in by the characters of the graveyard and his journey from infancy to adulthood. It is well written, intriguing, and entertaining - even if it is rather dark at times. I think that it is obvious to say that it is paranormal fiction, but there are ghosts and hounds of god and the like. ( )
  alb2219 | Sep 5, 2014 |
I had to struggle through the first 30 pages, and I almost put the book down. Something about the Disney-like beginning made me feel as though this book wasn't for me. I sat there and thought about all the unanswered questions I had: What was the shadowy organization that wanted the child and his family killed? What was the man Jack's motivations? Who was the spooky protector Silas? How does the boy(Nobody Owens) grow up?
I said to myself that I would read on until page 50, maybe something would pick up. And almost immediately it did, and I was quite happy. There is a rather wonderful Lovecraftian excursion into an underworld realm of ghouls and flying gaunts with a blood red dead sun and an abandoned city with impossible geometry that the ghouls have made their home. Like Lovecraft, it isn't exactly scary as it is deeply weird.
The rest of the questions were answered slowly, and mostly near the end, but in ways that didn't really satisfy me - they were rather expected, in fact had a really strong Tim Hunter/Books of Magic feel to them: the mysterious guide that is initiating our young hero into a magickal world is at deadly odds with a sinister faction that wants our hero killed because he is special/chosen. His maturation was interesting, but I wanted to see Nobody mature into someone capable of walking the line between the living and the dead, and the book completely drops the ball on this. The clean slate that he ends the book on is entirely unsatisfying.
So, it's well written, and the mix of characters and setting is compelling, but the story leaves me rather cold.
3 stars oc is the best I can give it.

Well, the more I think about the way that various conflicts are "resolved", I realize I can't actually go above a 2.5 ( )
1 vote starcat | Aug 11, 2014 |
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