Friday, August 15, 2008

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman, famous for his creepy and often scary tales, Coraline and The Wolves in the Wall, has created in his new novel something that is neither despite its chilling first chapter and spectral cast of characters. This is a story about the power of family -whatever form it comes in - and the potential of a child who is raised with love and a sense of duty. Nobody Owens (Bod) is adopted by a couple of ghosts after narrowly escaping death at the hands of the mysterious man who murdered the rest of his family. After much debate he is granted the Freedom of the Graveyard by its long dead inhabitants. His guardian Silas, neither dead nor alive, brings him food and ensures he is educated in the ways of the dead and the living. Of course, life for young Owens is not all plain sailing. There is the ghoul gate and the ancient force that waits in the oldest grave and the mysterious man who still searches for the boy he failed to kill. The story of an orphaned boy being hunted down by a secret society and protected by magic sounds familiar but while the story of Harry Potter resonates here, the sympathetic, flawed and ultimately very human character of Bod saves this from being merely a reshaping of Rowling’s epic tale. In fact, Gaiman's title is an homage to Kipling's The Jungle Book- a story with a similar theme. I can’t help thinking, however, that this novel should be the first in a series. There are too many questions unanswered. While I never really believed that Bod was ever in any real danger in the graveyard, a boy who sets off in to the world of the living with his “eyes and heart wide open” can only be headed for uncertainty.
FYI Coraline the movie is slated to be released in 2009. Click here for a sneak preview.
Neil Gaiman has a groovy website.

2 comments:

Ms. Yingling said...

I would not mind a sequel to this one. I bought two copies for my school library and neither has made it to the shelves yet.

dborck said...

I loved this one and I am so glad it received a Newberry Honor. I have encouraged my middle school kids to read The Graveyard Book and every one has absolutely loved it. I can't keep it on the shelves.
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