15) The Graveyard Book

By: Neil Gaiman

Date Finished: 10.08.13

by Neil Gaiman

He was shaking hands and saying, “Charmed, I am sure,” because he could greet people politely over nine hundred years of changing manners.

Nobody Owens is a normal little boy, except for one thing: he’s growing up in a graveyard with his adoptive ghost parents.  He was just a toddler when his family was murdered, but he found refuge among the ghosts of a nearby graveyard and was granted the freedom to walk among them.  All his friends and tutors are dead (with the exception of his guardian who is neither living nor dead) and Bod is generally content not to stray from his community.  But the man Jack who killed Bod’s family is still on the prowl and Bod realizes he won’t be able to truly live until he’s faced this demon.

It’s a fascinating read, brimming with Gaiman magic.  In a way, it’s like reading a full season of a television show.  Each of the chapters act as episodes — distinct, but connected by an overarching plotline.    Bod is a couple years older in each chapter, but they are self-contained stories that move in real time (more or less).  You also learn a little bit more about the man Jack in each episode, but you don’t reach the real drama until the finale.

Something that’s also fun about the book is that it is set in modern times — cars, cell phones, all that — but it takes a while to realize because the ghosts represent such a wide range of history.  I started out imagining it in the 1800s, then rapidly jumped through the decades as Gaiman dropped in more clues.  I loved how Gaiman played with the various residents of the graveyard, each trapped in their own time period and imposing their cultural views on a boy who doesn’t know the first thing about the living world.

This book is strange and smart and just good, morbid fun.  Certainly one of my favorite Gaiman creations to date.

At the end of the day: Really for me

 

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