I’m going to warn you, this review is seriously biased. I already love Neil Gaiman’s work. Neverwhere is one of my personal favs and I think I’ve read his short story collections Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things have been read and re-read until the ink’s worn off the page by the passage of my gaze. BUT I’m not a fan of American Gods, don’t judge. And so, The Graveyard Book could still go either way.
To start iff with, the book is about a kid growing up in a graveyard, the first few pages are about a seriously creepy murderer called Jack, and by the ned of the first chapter, a small child has escaped on wobbly feet and been taken in by ghosts. I don’t think there are any real spoilers there, but I just wanted to highlight how much great work is crammed into each and every chapter of The Graveyard book. Gaiman’s signature villains are in there with their odd names and overly-polite dialogue (a la Mr croup and Mr Vandemar from Neverwhere) which always give me a case of the willies. And the individual adventures of Bod (short for Nobody) and his undead friends are never formulaic or boring. In fact, they’re downright quirky. Good old Gaiman, you can always count on him for a bit of quirk.
What I really liked (and again this is bias on my part) is how the novel is split up into seperate stories, often a year or two appart, so that you get to see Bod grow up and learn his lessons. In that way, you really get a feel for the character and I seriously hope that there’ll be a sequel from his latter years. But more than that (here comes the bias) it let me know that it’s ok to write a book with this format. Which is good, because my WIP, The Adventures of Alan Shaw uses the same approach to show the protagonist growing up and having his adventures. And, to be honest, I’ve been worrying that it was a bad idea.
But back to the book. It was another one that I inhaled in the course of a day or so. It’s so easy to read, since it’s aimed at a younger audience, but it’s in no way patronising or dumbed down for the kids. The perfect mixture! Kids thrive on mystery and wierdness and they’re sharp enough to figure out what’s going on without a great big neon sign. YA authors, take note! Do it like Neil does (in my head, we’re on first name terms). Basically, an all-round good book, a satisfying read and intriguing hope-for-a-sequel premise. Good times.
And so, Mister Gaiman, not only thank you for a great read, but thank you for saving my literary ass at the same time. Seriously folks, how good is this guy?
Thanks for reading.