In Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, ghosts, werewolves, ghouls, witches, night gaunts and other supernatural creatures do not daunt Bod (short for Nobody) Owens at all. In fact, he has ghosts as foster parents, a werewolf as a teacher, and a witch as a friend; to him, the graveyard dwellers are the closest thing he has to a family. As Bod grows older, he starts to abandon the safety of the graveyard to venture into the living world. Ironically, it is there that he realizes the value of his learned ghostly skills as he tries to blend in with humans and discover the truth about his biological parents' deaths.
Ultimately, this book consists of Bod's many ghostly mini-adventures, a timeline of his life. Bod is a well fleshed-out dynamic character; his thoughts and feelings are always relatable whether he was a toddler or a preteen. I felt that I really got to know him, and that's what made the story so hauntingly beautiful. In fact, all the other characters are lifelike and convincing as well. What I love about Gaiman's writing style is that it's always so authentic and natural; nothing ever sounds forced or out of place. Gaiman also never slows down the pace of the book. Each chapter is filled with suspense, creativity, and most important of all, clever wit. This is what I call a page turner. Another thing I loved about this book is the subject matter itself, the idea of a boy being raised by ghosts. It's fresh, quirky, and attention-grabbing all at once. Who would've thought?
However, the main conflict's resolution wasn't quite what I had expected; I wish the explanation for the death of Bod's family was more elaborated upon though it was satisfactory enough. I also wish Bod had a stronger connection with the Lady on the Grey, a ghost who initially convinced the graveyard citizens to raise Bod&but I'm just nitpicking.
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I definitely recommend this novel to everyone. Even though this book was inspired by The Jungle Book, I felt that The Graveyard Book was definitely in a class by itself.
2 keeps you thinking
3 is a book that makes you feel as you in there
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I am an English teacher.Â My school is far from my home, so I often listen to audiobooks on the way in.Â I had read Gaiman's adult fiction before (fantastic!) and wanted to try one of his "younger" books.Â So I picked up The Graveyard Book.Â TheÂ first day I found myself taking the long way home because I was so addicted to the story, the characters, and the reading (Neil Gaiman reads the book, and he is brilliant).Â Â
Neil Gaimans The Graveyard Book opens with a pretty terrifying situation. A man has slaughtered a family in the middle of the night, all save a toddler who escapes unharmed, walking out the front door and away from the mayhem. Up the hill trots the toddler, to a graveyard full of ghosts who take him in. By the end of the first chapter Gaiman has established the graveyard as the storys center. Within its reassuringly locked gates, the boy finds a safe and cozy place to grow up.
Among the dead are teachers, workers, wealthy prigs, romantics, pragmatists and even a few children, basically a good place for a baby to live in. And they do, ably led by Silas, an enigmatic character who is not really one of them, being not quite dead and not quite living. In this moonlit place, the boy who is given the name Nobody Owens, or Bod for short has adventures, makes friends (not all of them dead), and begins to learn about his past and consider his future. Along the way, he encounters hideous ghouls, a witch, middle school bullies and an otherworldly fraternal order that holds the secrets of his familys murder by the man Jack. When he is 12 things change, and he learns why hes been in the graveyard all this time and what he needs to do to leave.
While The Graveyard Book will entertain people of all ages, its especially a tale for children. Gaimans remarkable cemetery is a place that children more than anyone would want to visit. They would certainly want to look for Silas in his chapel, maybe climb down (if they were as brave as Bod) to the oldest burial chamber, or (if they were as reckless) search for the ghoul gate. Children will appreciate Bods occasional mistakes and bad manners, and relish his good acts and eventual great ones. The storys language and humor are sophisticated, but Gaiman respects his readers and trusts them to understand.
Nobody Owens--a funny name for a child, but when you consider that he is being raised by "people" in a graveyard, maybe it fits. This Newbery Award winner lives up to its reputation as a fascinating read. A baby boy being raised by those who haunt a graveyard--what types of lessons would he learn? What special talents would he develop? Does he look at the world differently? Will he be able to make "live" friends? The finale touches on a bigger question: Is murder ever justified? I don't know if there will be a sequel, but the door was left open for one. It would be interesting to see how Nobody Owens makes his way in the real world.
I loved this book. It was so easy to fall in love with all of the characters. I loved watching "Bod" grow up in the cemetary with all of his ghosts friends and adopted family. It was a wonderfull and fun book. I would recommend it to anyone of any age. It was great!
The graveyard book tells the story of Nobody Owens (called Bod), who
escapes to a graveyard as a toddler after his family is murdered. Bod
is given the freedom of the graveyard, allowing him to pass freely
through the graveyard and learn the ways of the ghost inhabitants who
are helping to raise him. This graveyard family teaches Bod how to see
at night, to Haunt, Fade and Dreamwalk; they protect him from the
outside world, and from the man who killed his family and would like to
finish the job. But they cannot protect him forever, and Bod knows that
one day he will have to confront the world and the dangers in it,
embracing his destiny for good or bad.
I was really excited to read this book, and even though I was in
the middle of another, I found myself repeatedly picking The Graveyard
Book up and opening to the brilliant first page. I finally caved in and
set my other book aside so I could read this, and at first I was
entirely disappointed and didnt think I was going to like the book at
all. I found Bods toddler years to be only tolerable. There was
occasional cuteness, but nothing to hook me and make me want to keep
reading (aside from the fantastic Gorey-esque illustrations). That all
changed when Bod went to GhÃ»lheim; from then on I was absolutely
hooked. The writing is clever and has a certain brightness mingled with
the dark of the story. The book is sprinkled with interesting
characters (with amusing epitaphs). The worlds Gaiman created are vivid
and intriguing, with interesting and original takes on familiar
mythology. Bods journey is relatable, even in all of its surrealness,
and the overall message is incorporated well without being didactic.
This is the sort of story I know I would have become completely lost in
and obsessed with as a child.
A warning to parents that there are some dark themes and scary
elements, but overall I would recommend this to any child/young teen,
especially those who like fantasy and darker elements. This would also
make a fun read-aloud for parents and children, or a classroom, and the
illustrations add to the story immensely.
Nobody "Bod" Owens is a living boy growing up with ghosts. He remembers nothing of his past with the living world. He's got a family, the Owens, a gardian, the mysterious Silas, and many friends, including an 18th century poet and the ghost of a witch. However, the living world, and his real family, keep creeping in.Â
I have mixed feelings about recommending this book, mostly based on
the subject matter and the marketed age group. The publisher has a
minimum age of 9 listed for this novel. My little boys are young and I
dont know exactly where a 9 year old is as far as understanding death
and murder, but it does seem a little young to be tackling some of the
harsher subjects of death, suicide, afterlife, etc.
I would recommend the book to older teens and adults. It is
intriguing story of a graveyard (patterned after the Highgate Cemetery
in London?), with characters as old as the Roman conquerors, and
including a witch, a werewolf and a vampire. And, although there are a
myriad of creatures and mythical settings, the novel approaches some
serious topics; murder of a family, loneliness, being an orphan, being
an outsider, suicide, religion, the afterlife, and separation. It is a
very emotional ride (I cried at the end!) that is at times
entertaining, scary and sad.
He imagined a future in which he could read everything, in which all stories could be opened and discovered.
Where ever you go, you take yourself with you.
I thought this was a very powerful quote (and great for a young person):
Youre alive Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do
anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the
world will change. Potential. Once youre dead, its gone. Over. Youve
made what youve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may
be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.
proconsul a governor of a province in ancient Rome
gorse a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family
augur portend a bad outcome
groat any of various medieval European coins
lummox a clumsy, stupid person
imperturbable unable to be upset or excited
susurrus whispering, murmuring, or rustling
Comments and thoughts:
Miss Leticia Borrows, Spinster of this Parish (Who Did No Harm to No Man all the Dais of Her Life. Reader, Can You Say Lykewise?). I loved how each time a person of the graveyard is mentioned, his or her epitaph is also mentioned. Very clever.
The brooch and the mans reaction to it (from the pawn shop) reminded me of Gollum from Tolkiens books.
The suicides or those who were not of the faith. This seems a harsh
thing for a YA book. But, then maybe suicide should be addressed? Im
so torn about what a tween audience should be introduced. When my kids
are older, I will have a better understanding of where children at that
age are emotionally.