I just finished reading this book and have no idea why the Jacks wanted to kill Bod and his family. Also were the Jacks actually live people or ghosts? Maybe I'm just stupid but could someone help me out please.
For your first question, it's explained on pages 270-271. Basically, there was a prophecy that said a child who walked the borderland between life and death would be the end of their order if he grew to adulthood. So, Bod was the target. His family was just 'collateral damage', I guess you could say.
As for the Jacks, I know they aren't ghosts, since one of them breaks their ankle falling into a grave, and I don't think that'd happen to ghosts. Plus, Scarlett and her mother can see them, which wouldn't be possible if they were ghosts (at least, Scarlett doesn't have a good track record with seeing ghosts and such in the book). But, they aren't human either. I'm not quite sure what they are exactly, just that they are in fact something not-quite-human but not dead.
Thanks very much. I enjoyed the book although I don't really think it should be classified as a child's book. Mine won't be reading it anytime soon. This was my first for this author, I do wish he would have done a better job with the ending. I couldn't help but feel like a lot was missing.
Yeah, I have a bit of trouble with it being classified as a children's book as well. I mean, there were a few parts (especially the first chapter) that even creeped me out a bit, so I'm not sure I'd give it to a child to read. Actually, not believing in censoring what anyone reads, I guess I'd let the child decide. I liked the book though, and I sort of liked the ending as well. Though there was something that seemed to be missing from it (I felt it too), the very end did leave the perfect opening for the reader to imagine their own real ending for Bod's story, which is quite nice for a children's book.
But, I'm still convinced that this is an adult's book in a children's book cover, sort of like the later Harry Potter books. They got too dark for many children in the 'official' age range to feel they could handle, but adults were reading them like crazy.
I just finished the book only minutes ago. Actually found the plotline regarding the Jacks to be the weakest in the book, and a bit of a let down. Prophesy lines as such are often pretty disappointing and this was no exception. There's a bit of a problem with it too since the only reason Bod is any threat to the Jacks is because they believe he is a threat to them and set themselves against him. A self-fulfilling prophesy I guess. All this of course is couched within an otherwise very enjoyable book, and plays out very quickly so I found this one weakness rather palatable.
As far as what makes appropriate children literature anymore, I don't know. I'm rather cautious throwing around titles like that because I think it is adults trying to categorize what makes a good book for kids Avid child readers will both surprise us in what they read, while displaying a complete ignorance of the distinctions us adults have made. Of my favorite books I read in my youth, I imagine all have had parents at one point saying they aren't what kids should be reading.
I liked the Jacks, but I agree their collective motivation was never entirely fleshed out. I don't know if Gaiman was trying to keep them mysterious or if he just wrote himself into a corner and needed a perfunctory explanation, but to me it didn't really matter. If you can shrug it off as a MacGuffin then it doesn't bother you.