The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Neil Gaiman's Newbury Award winning The Graveyard Book is available at the local library. Photo by Marisa Clark

The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
320 pp Harper Collins/Bloomsbury 2008

Review By Marisa Clark

While The Graveyard Book was written and marketed for pre-teens and children, it is captivating and complex enough to appeal to teenagers and young adults as well.A dark beginning lands a toddler named Nobody “Bod” Owens in the care of the ghosts haunting a local graveyard. The story follows him as he grows up and lives his life, whilst being hunted by the hitman hired to kill his family. The original idea of Bod being raised in a graveyard, gives him a rather unusual perspective on life. The story is rather similar to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, retold for a modern audience.

The Graveyard Book is 320 pages, but it often seems shorter, and makes for a quick and entertaining read. Gaiman’s unique sense of humor lightens the sometimes gloomy tone of the book, which  seems rather frightening for a children’s book, at times. The book captures your attention when it begins in the middle of a murder plot, and keeps it with quirky details and intriguing characters that move in and out of Bod’s life.

Gaiman is well known for creating interesting and likeable characters, as shown by the endearing and curious Bod and the mysterious Jack. The Graveyard Book competes with Neil Gaiman’s other works in this department, standing up to the incredibly high standards of American Gods’s Shadow and Neverwhere’s Marquis de Carabas.

Neil Gaiman isn’t one of the big names in great literature, but he’s one of the best in Science Fiction/Fantasy and the Hugo Award winning The Graveyard Book is yet more proof of this.The book also won the Locus Award for best young adult novel, and nearly won two other prestigious awards in the science fiction world. Gaiman is well known in this genre, most notably for his Hugo and Nebula award winning American Gods and the cult hit Good Omens (co-authored with Sir Terry Pratchett).

The Graveyard Book is highly recommended for anyone, especially as an introduction to the rest of Gaiman’s works. It’s a relatively quick read, for its length, and while some of the ideas may seem childish, it’s oddly entertaining.