The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book book cover
Rating 9.6/10
A deserving winner of the Carnegie Medal.

Review by Angela

This is the story of Bod (Nobody Owens) who had to live in a graveyard because all his family had been murdered. He is raised by ghosts, Mr and Mrs Owens with the help of his guardian, Silas, who is neither alive nor dead. The novel is aimed at 8 – 11 year olds, but the gruesome murder descriptions in the first chapter may push the age up. Parents should read that bit and then decide.

Nearly every chapter is a self contained short story about an incident in Bod’s life. This makes it ideal for dipping into, and for reading at bedtime. The Chris Riddell edition has full page illustrations before each chapter, giving a hint at what kind of story the reader can expect. They all have a dark sense of humour, and cover Bod’s life until he is 15 years old. ‘The Hounds of God’ is particularly bleak, and very funny. Ghouls take the name of the dead person that they ate first e.g. Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Emperor of China and the Thirty-third President of the United States. Other chapters concentrate on what it is like being the outsider when you are growing up. The way Bod deals with the school bullies is truly inspired.

The end of the novel is exciting and has a twist that this reader did not see coming. It won the Carnegie medal this year for children’s fiction, and this novel deserved to win. The writing style though easy enough for children, is very descriptive and distinctive. It’s going to make a great film, but as always it is a better experience to read the book.

Review by Indra

In the middle of the night a family is murdered in their beds, but the job isn't complete, the youngest child, a small baby, escapes the fate of his family and toddles off in the direction of the local graveyard. After creeping through the gaps in the railings the young child is then adopted by the ghostly inhabitants of the graveyard, at the pleading request of his mother's spirit. The child is then raised by Mr and Mrs Owens, a ghostly couple, along side a not-quite-dead-not-quite-alive guardian by the name of Silas.

Growing up Bod, short for Nobody, Owens learns how to read, about maths, the stars and how to fade and walk through walls. He isn't allowed to leave the graveyard as it has been deemed to be unsafe for him to do so, however after a while he is allowed to go to school, where events unfold leading the killer of his family back to him, in order to complete the job of killing the whole family.

The story has been built upon the foundations of a short story by Gaiman, published in his anthology M is for Magic, and it also tips it's hat to Kipling's Jungle Book, with ghosts taking the place of the animals in a typical Gaiman twist.

It has to be said that the book was a good page turner, and the story flowed well with recognised Gaiman humour and a touch of the macabre, however not as dark as Coraline. There is a slightly hollow feel left after reading it though, possibly due to a loose end situation. It would be nice to see sequels or even some spin off books, continuing the story of the lives of several of the characters. This should not however been seen as a negative point, indeed it is quite the opposite, Gaiman leaves the reader with the words '...and then?' lingering on their lips, desperate to know more, to continue following the lives of the characters that they have grown to love.

So, the advice is to read this book, unless you are Neil Gaiman, in which case you should really be writing more and more and....

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The Graveyard Book reader reviews

from Thailand

10-stars

The Graveyard book is a fantastic story about, family, friendship and growing up as young bod, raised in a graveyard by two ghosts, grows up and finds his place in the world. Author, Neil Gaimen creates a heart-felt story with is language and ideas. This is the perfect read for children age 8+ (there is some violence) and some chapters can be used as short stories. The plot The story starts out in a house where a murderer is walking through a house after already killing most of the family, except the baby. The baby escapes to a small graveyard, where he is taken in by some Victorian ghosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens and a guardian named Silias. He grows up in the graveyard with the name bod (short for nobody) and goes on some adventures. When he is around five years old he meets a new friend, Scarlett, who is told by her parents that the boy in the graveyard is imaginary, and they have some adventures. Bod grows up and is faced with many problems from trying to get a ghost-which a tombstone and defeating bullies to trying to find the man who killed his family and being captured by ghouls. The story ends nicely but sadly as Bod is 15 years old and can no longer see his ghost family so he leaves the graveyard. The whole story is an anagram for growing up. The leaving of the graveyard is like moving out of childhood and facing that you’re not a child anymore. MY RATING 9.5/10 4/5 In my opinion this book is fantastic and I recommend it to anybody who is a fan of books. Yes, at sometimes it slows down and gets of track with the little adventures but I think those just make the book better. So out of ten I’d give it a 9.5. I like this more than Neil Gaimen’s other book Coralline because while Coralline lacks in heart, the graveyard book is full of it, from its small short stories to the members all of them bring heart into the story. This book is perfect for ages 8+ (yes adults too).

from United Kingdom

10-stars

10 out of 10.

from Austrailia

6-stars

When I started reading this it kept on changing perspective, which I don't like. First it was the narrator, then Jack, then the Mr and Mrs Owens! What the heck! Besides that though, I thought the book was well plotted and very interesting. Everybody has a different childhood, and this kids was CLEARLY different.

from Karachi, Pakistan

10-stars

Ten outta ten!

from Vienna

10-stars

I liked this book the first time I read it, very much so. I found it even better on second read and by the third time it had become one of my favourite books of all time. I have found that Gaiman's book tend to improve with each read, which for me is a sign of a great book. It has a poetic feel to it and the theme, although dark, is full of hope. A winner of many awards I recommend you read it to find out why, and then read it again and again.

from Cape Town

9-stars

This was a great book, I loved it. I like how it can be related to struggles that all humans face of being different and growing up in a different environment to the norm. I love Neil Gaiman's style of writing, it is easy to follow and it makes it easy for the reader to keep up with the plot of the book. I personally think that it can be read by people of all ages because it we can often relate to the metaphorical context of this book. Overall, very good book and a fresh, original idea.

9.2/10 from 7 reviews

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