28
Jan
18

Goodreads Review: The Graveyard Book

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The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gaiman does it again; as with most of his works, he sets a basic stage with a great deal of drama, then scales things back to a much more human level, spending much of the story’s time making you care deeply for the people you walk these strange roads with. Inevitably, as is Gaiman’s usual method, once you’ve reached the peak of that emotional investment, when you regard folks such as Bod, Scarlett, the Hempstock witch, and dear old (and possibly formerly murderous) Silas as your dearest friends, he lays you low with a swift punch directly to the feels.

The Graveyard Book despite its trappings of fantasy and high adventure as a young boy raised by ghosts probes the past, discovers how he was orphaned and hopes to gain vengeance against the one who harmed him, is at its heart a book about growing up. The wonders of childhood rendered commonplace until viewed through the lens of another, the desperate attempts to keep things the same even as they change, and the knowledge that eventually, everything fades. Buried in that melancholy, though, is a hopeful message: Life is for living; live it while you can. As one of the ghosts that form Nobody Owens’ extended family tells him, that family’s time is passed; there is no change for them, no truly new experiences to be had. His time to join them in that state will come one day, but for now he should live his life to the absolute fullest so he can ride with the Lady of the Grey with no regrets or fear.

Bod’s struggle with those concepts, alongside his troubles with things as mundane as the school bully and as fantastic as a troublesome spirit waiting for a master of unimaginable power known as the Sleer, is presented lovingly and beautifully, and lets the reader feel as they are in some way growing up with him; as the book opens, things are fresh and new, but like with age or the nature of the graveyard he inhabits, the shine begins to wear, rot seeps in, and all we can do is mourn for it.

As with anything Gaiman, I strongly recommend giving it a read. It’s very easily one of his best, and even adults can pull something from it, despite it being marketed as a book for younger audiences.

Just mind the Sleer. And ‘ware the Man Jack.

View all my reviews

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