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229 of 247 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Gaiman Delight mixing humor, creepiness, fantasy, horror, and humanity
What a fun read. It kept me up 'til 7 in the morning yesterday, and I do not regret it a bit.

The story of Nobody Owens--his adopted name, as this is a wee human child spared the murderous spree of a dreadful assasin, then taken in by a cemetery full of ghosts from assorted centuries, and guarded by them because the assasin has not given up the quest to kill...
Published on October 5, 2008 by Mir

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139 of 165 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neverwhere for Kids - fun book for junior readers
First things first, this is a children's book. It is a book, written for 10-15 year olds that some adults will also enjoy. If you are the sort of adult who enjoyed the Harry Potter series or Gaiman's Coraline, you will enjoy this also. I make this point as Amazon and other booksellers aren't going out of their way to let casual readers know that this is not the same as...
Published on October 20, 2008 by KindlePad


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229 of 247 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Gaiman Delight mixing humor, creepiness, fantasy, horror, and humanity, October 5, 2008
By 
Mir (North Miami Beach, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Hardcover)
What a fun read. It kept me up 'til 7 in the morning yesterday, and I do not regret it a bit.

The story of Nobody Owens--his adopted name, as this is a wee human child spared the murderous spree of a dreadful assasin, then taken in by a cemetery full of ghosts from assorted centuries, and guarded by them because the assasin has not given up the quest to kill him--is unputdownable. Every adventure as he grows from toddler to teenager mixes wonders and frights and humor. It's just such fun to see him learn ghostly ways and interact with humans and nonhumans.

There's so much to recommend in the story (and my fellow reviewers cover plenty, so I need not repeat it), but I agree that the trip into the world of the ghouls was a wild ride. I have to give props to Gaiman for the total magic that he infused into the chapter on the Danse Macabre. It would have been a terrific short story--that strange, strange day--but it worked wonderfully in the tale, showing us clearly a thing or two about Nobody and his mysterious, powerful Guardian, Silas. (His particular fantasy niche, while never said specifically in so many words is , nevertheless, no great riddle.)

The near-end brings Nobody into confrontation with the horrible killer, and Nobody comes into his own, but it costs him. It's a well-crafted ending that is inevitable given all Nobody's learned as the story progressed. If you don't figure it out pretty well in advance, you werent' paying attention.

The bittersweet--but natural and fitting-- ending made me sad as I closed the book. It feels complete, yes, but I so want to see more written on Nobody Owens. I have no idea if Mr. Gaiman has planned another or several more novels with this character, but I can say that I would very much like to read more on Nobody and Silas.

I should add that there are illustrations scattered throughout, however, I'm not a particular fan of all the included art. I normally really enjoy McKean's partnering with Mr. Gaiman, but several of the illustrations just left me unimpressed. Though, honestly, I was so wrapped up in the tale, I didn't give them that much of a lingering look. So, the fault may lie more with my impatience to read.

A wonderful story. If you enjoyed the award-winning CORALINE, you're in for a treat. This one's better.

Thanks, Mr. G.

Mir

UPDATE Jan 26, 2009: This book just won Gaiman the prestigious Newbery Medal!
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415 of 482 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The gravity of the situation, October 3, 2008
This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Hardcover)
I've noticed that there's been an increased interest in the macabre in children's literature lately. Sometimes when I've had a glass or two of wine and I'm in a contemplative mood I try weaving together a postulation that ties the current love of violent movies into this rise in children's literary darkness. Is the violence of the world today trickling down into our entertainment? Hogwash and poppycock and other words of scoff and denial, says sober I. But I've certainly seen a distinct rise in the Gothic and otherworldly over the last few years, and one wonders if it's because kids want more of that kind of stuff or publishers are merely getting less squeamish. All that aside, generally I'll read a May Bird book or an Everlost title and they'll be fun examinations of the hereafter, but not the kind of things that touch my heart. Great writing doesn't have to transcend its genre. It just has to be emotionally honest with the reader. And The Graveyard Book is one of the most emotionally honest books I've yet to have read this year. Smart and focused, touching and wry, it takes the story of a boy raised by ghosts and extends it beyond the restrictive borders of the setting. Great stuff.

It starts with three murders. There were supposed to be four. The man Jack was one of the best, maybe THE best, and how hard is it to kill a toddler anyway? But on that particular night the little boy went for a midnight toddle out the front door while the murderer was busy and straight into the nearby graveyard. Saved and protected by the denizens of that particular abode (the ghosts and the far more corporeal if mysterious Silas), the little boy is called Bod, short for Nobody because no one knows his name. As he grows older, Bod learns the secrets of the graveyard, though he has to be careful. The man (or is it "men"?) who killed his family could come back for him. Best to stay quiet and out of sight. Yet as Bod grows older it becomes clear that hiding may not be the best way to confront his enemies. And what's more, Bod must come to grips with what it means to grow up.

Can I level with you? You know Coraline? Mr. Gaiman's previous foray into middle grade children's literature. Come close now, I don't want to speak too loudly. Uh... I didn't much care for it. WAIT! Come back, come back, I didn't mean it! Well, maybe I did a tad. It was a nice book. A sufficient story. But it was very much (new category alert) an adult-author-to-children's-author-first-timer-title. Gaiman appeared to be finding his sealegs with Coraline. He took the old Alice in Wonderland trope which adult authors naturally gravitate to on their first tries (see: Un Lun Dun, Summerland, The King in the Window, etc.). Throw in some rats, bees, and buttons, and voila! Instant success. But Coraline for all its readability and charm didn't get me here [thumps chest:]. I didn't feel emotionally close to the material. Now why it should be that I'd feel closer emotionally to a book filled with a plethora of ghosts, ghouls, night-gaunts, and Hounds of God, I can only chalk up to The Graveyard Book's strong vision.

My husband likes to say that the whole reason Buffy the Vampire Slayer worked as a television show was that it was a natural metaphor for the high school (and eventually college) experience. Likewise, The Graveyard Book has this strong,strange, wonderful metaphor about kids growing up, learning about the wider world, and exploring beyond the safe boundaries of their homes. There's so much you can read into this book. I mean, aren't all adults just ghosts to kids anyway? Those funny talking people whose time has passed but that may provide some shelter and wisdom against the wider, crueler world. Plus Mr. Gaiman also includes characters in Bod's world that kids will wish they had in their own. Silas, a man who may be a vampire (though the word is never said) is every child's fantasy; A mysterious/magical guardian/friend who will tell you the truth when your parents will not.

One thing I particularly liked about the book was the fact that Bod makes quite a few careless or thoughtless mistakes and yet you don't feel particularly inclined to throttle him because of them. Too often in a work of fiction a person isn't properly put into the head of their protagonist. So when that character walks off and does something stupid there's the sense (sometimes faint, sometimes not) that they deserved it and you're not going to stick around and read about somebody that dumb, are you? But even when Bod is at his most intolerable, his most childishly selfish and single-minded, you can understand and sympathize with him. Bod is no brat, a fact that implies right there that he is someone worth rooting for. We see our own young selves in Bod, and we root for him as a result. And as Bod reaches each stage in his growth, he encounters experiences and personalities that help him to reach maturity. That's a lot to put on the plate of a l'il ole fantasy novel, particularly one that's appropriate for younger kids.

And it is appropriate too. Don't let the fact that the first sentence in the book ("There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife") put you off. The murder of Bod's family is swift, immediate, and off-screen. What remains is just a great fantasy novel that has the potential to appeal to both boy and girl readers. Kid wants a ghost story? Check. Kid wants a fantasy novel set in another world appropriate for Harry Potter fans? Check. Kid wants a "good book". That's my favorite request. When the eleven-year-old comes up to my desk and begs for "a good book" I can just show them the cover and the title of this puppy and feel zero guilt when their little eyes light up. A good book it is.

I guess that if I have any objections at all to the title it has something to do with the villains. They're a bit sketchy, which I suppose is the point, but we live in an era where children's fantasy novels spend oodles of time defining their antagonists' motivations and histories. Gaiman's more interested in his hero, which is natural, but the villains' raison d'être is just a bit too vague for the average reader. Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that Bod's family is slaughtered at the start of this tale you wouldn't necessarily know whether or not to believe that these people are as nasty as we've been told.

That said the book's a peach. I once heard someone postulate that maybe Neil Gaiman wrote it just so that he could play with the sentence "It takes a graveyard to raise a child." Unlikely. Fun, but unlikely. I mean, he does make a casual allusion that isn't far off from that phrase, but he never goes whole hog. This book doesn't feel like it was written to back up a joke. It feels like a book written by a parent with children growing up and moving out. It's a title that tips its hat to kids making their way in the world, their pasts behind them, their futures unknown. This is not yet another silly little fantasy novel, but something with weight and depth. The fact that it just happens to be loads of fun to boot is simply a nice bonus. Highly recommended.
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95 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman riffs on Kipling's Jungle Book, September 30, 2008
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This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Hardcover)
Gaiman's latest finds the popular author channeling Rudyard Kipling's 1894 story collection The Jungle Book, particularly the story of the boy, Mowgli, who was raised in the jungle by animals, specifically by his mentors, Baloo the bear, Kaa the snake, and Bagheera, the panther. As indicated by its title, Gaiman's take on the story involves a boy who is raised by the denizens of a graveyard.

Like many ideas he's developed, it is one that occurred to Gaiman a long way back, and stayed with him over the years. In the author's own words:

"Around 1985 or 1986, we lived in a house with no garden, but we had a graveyard just over the run, so that was where my son Michael (three or four at the time) rode his little tricycle. And I remember watching him, and thinking it would be fun to do The Jungle Book, only set in a graveyard instead of a jungle, and that was the start of it. Because I tend to be fairly slow about these things, it's taken me...twenty-two years to get to it."

The first half of Chapter One (which I was fortunate enough to hear Gaiman read aloud at a November, 2007 gathering at the University of Minnesota) describes how a man named Jack enters a house and kills its occupants, except for an infant, a boy, who manages to escape the killing zone and ends up in a nearby graveyard. There, the denizens of the graveyard reach a momentous decision, deciding to raise the toddler as a member of their extended family. After much humorous and heated debate, they name him Nobody, because he's like nobody else in the cemetery. Bod, as he comes to be known, is still in danger, however, as Jack (like the lethal and murderous tiger Shere Khan in The Jungle Book) is still looking for him, hoping to finish his task of eliminating the members of Bod's family.

That's the setup; to discuss subsequent chapters in any detail would be a disservice to Gaiman's constant readers. Suffice it to say all the praise lavished on the author in the blurbs above is justified: Gaiman deftly blends action, humor, horror, and a good deal of, well, humanity, into a suspenseful storyline, offsetting the grim goings on with a cast of irrepressible characters sure to strike a favorable chord with readers. Always an interesting, inventive, and intuitive storyteller, Gaiman has outdone himself with The Graveyard Book, creating a tale destined to be well received both critically and commercially. This one might have taken twenty-two years to finish, but it has proven to be well worth the wait.
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139 of 165 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neverwhere for Kids - fun book for junior readers, October 20, 2008
This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Hardcover)
First things first, this is a children's book. It is a book, written for 10-15 year olds that some adults will also enjoy. If you are the sort of adult who enjoyed the Harry Potter series or Gaiman's Coraline, you will enjoy this also. I make this point as Amazon and other booksellers aren't going out of their way to let casual readers know that this is not the same as American Gods, or Neverwhere or his books written primarily for adults. I think this is mostly due to marketing people who want to sell this book to as many people as they can. If they went heavy on the "its a kids book" then it wouldn't sell as well.

Also, this book is fairly short. It has a lot of great illustrations and while the length of a book doesn't equal quality, which would you rather buy -- a great short book or a great long book? Its about half the pages as American Gods.

That being said its a Neil Gaiman book & Neil is literally in a class of his own. He is not a genre author -- he is a masterful author who happens to write fantasy books. I believe if he were not writing in a genre field, he would without a doubt be perceived as some of the more renowned contemporary authors are. He is easily, the best author writing today - end of story.

The book's premise is simple, a boy whose parents are murdered under mysterious circumstances, is raised by the ghosts & denizens of a Graveyard and kept safe from those seeking to do him hard. There he learns the tricks of the graveyard such as Fade or Haunt, and to dream walk. These skills he employs to stay safely hidden from the outside world until eventually, those seeking to do him harm learn of his existence and return. There he takes matters into his own hands to protect not only himself, but his home and those he loves.

This was a charming book, but its also very safe. As a kids book, its a little grim but not too grim. Certainly far less grim than the average hour of American TV. For adults, I think some might be disappointed. Neil weaves a world of greater mystery than we see, our view being nearly entirely limited to the Graveyard and surrounding small town. I longed to see Bod's adventures outside of the Graveyard and really hope we see him in the future. Also, the book to closely followed the pattern and plot of its inspiration, the Jungle Book. I would have preferred a little more deviation.

For me, tho i enjoyed it, the book was too safe. I know its a kids book, but its also being heavily marketed to adults. And as such, there are no surprises, no one dies who does not deserve it (mostly). All's well that ends well. Good conquers evil, etc. In a kids book this is expected but in a adult book, it feels like Neil took the easy way out. The mystery surrounding why Bod's family was murdered is a bit thin.

In the end, a good solid read for kids, but I can't help feeling I'd rather have read an adult Gaiman book along the lines of Neverwhere or American Gods. I would love for Neil to have kicked this up to the adult level. Or perhaps make an adult counter story to this.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant read, but reliant on cleverness and short on substance, December 30, 2008
By 
N. C. Smith (Minneapolis, MN) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Hardcover)
I can't imagine anyone saying they're not a Neil Gaiman fan. He is an exceptional storyteller, and a master at infusing the novel, the unique, and the off-skew into his stories.

The Graveyard Book has all of the elements of Gaiman's unique abilities embedded within the story. I marvel at the breadth of his originality and imagination. I found The Graveyard Book to be a great literary snack, no matter that it is essentially a children's fantasy novel. It is also, however, devoid of weight.

As the story of the novel's genesis goes, the idea that inspired Gaiman to write the book was one long in incubation. The actual writing, however, began in Chapter 4, according to the author, and the book reads exactly so - like it was begun in the middle, with numerous clever novelties sewn together by a master storyteller, but at the end of the day lacking in the sort of coherent gravity that makes a book great - and in my case, that garners a 5 star rating.

I would encourage anyone to read the book. It is, as I said, a great snack. Gaiman's imagination and imagery are worth a look every time, but this book is a sitcom. It's a neatly packaged riff. But even children's books can have gravity, and in fact one might argue that they, more than any other, should.

The Jacks of All Trades, as they are described in the book, have no apparent reason for being. They're a serviceable boogeyman, but no more. The convenience of a certain ritualistic trio of artifacts at the end of the book goes unexplained. The whim of the Sleer at the end is a bit like having a Mack truck take out the bad-guy at the end of a story rather than the creativity, ingenuity, effort, or sacrifice of the hero. The artifice of the Sleer is too apparent, its convenience too great to create a compelling conclusion.

Short of the novelty of a vampire, werewolf, and mummy, what is the nature of this Order counter to the Jack of All Trades? What is its purpose?

The relationships between all the moving parts are just a little too tenuous to build the suspense, drama or caring that could take a novel idea, and a great character in Bod, to the next level.

By the end of the book, most everything that Bod needed to do was done for him by others. What are his great lessons? What is he carrying into the next phase of his life except a novel childhood? "The girl" will have no memories of him. He no longer seems to have any of the attributes his "Run of the Graveyard" gave him. His enemies were defeated for him so he no longer has that purpose. It doesn't seem like much. Thus, it doesn't leave the reader with much either.

I liked the book. It was fun. The imagery, dialogue, and characters amused. I might even read it again. But even this novel has the potential to be so much more - to mean¬ so much more. For those books that do, I offer 5 stores. Neil just wasn't trying that hard this time. Due to the opportunity missed, I grant 3. Still, heartily recommend the read.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Read, October 9, 2008
This review is from: The Graveyard Book CD (Audio CD)
Some authors shouldn't be the one to read for their audiobooks, but Neil Gaiman is not one of them. His reading brings the story into vibrant life, making the humor funnier, the tension thicker, and the tender moments more touching. I have never bought a book and considered buying the audio version as well--it has always been one or the other--until now. I can't recommend The Graveyard Book or its audio version highly enough. In fact, I think I'll start listening to it again right now.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Justifiable Cause for Middle School Mutiny, November 13, 2010
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This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Paperback)
Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is a great read. Amusing, fantastic, whimsical, and real by turns, it is a well-wrought good-versus-evil tale that won't be left on the table for very long.

I read the first line to one of my classes one day: "There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."--and they refused to line up for lunch until I got to the end of the chapter. This kind of mutiny is unheard of in my middle school world. I didn't mind, though. I was enjoying it, too.

This is the story of Nobody Owens, a boy who escapes murder when he is a toddler, toddles into a graveyard in London Town, and finds himself in the care of the community of spirits there until he comes of age--to fight the forces of evil, of course.

This Newbery Award winner is pure delight--the product of an amazing imagination, and a world you'll love being a part of from the first page to the last.

(I have handed copies of this book to reluctant readers, and they come back a day or two later with the thing read. This is how I measure a goodbook. Mr. Gaiman, thank you. You teach children to read by giving them reason to.)
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman Does It Again!, September 30, 2008
By 
Sebastien Pharand (Orléans, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Hardcover)
Nei Gaiman's imagination is extraordinary. His stories are always full of wit and humor. They are always entertaining. The Graveyard Book is no exception. Although it is being sold as a young adult novel, The Graveyard Book should please adults and youths alike.

After his family is murdered, young Bod (short for Nobody) finds himself in a cemetery, one that is inhabited by a colony of ghosts. After one dies, he remains forever in the place in which he is buried. To protect him from the murderer, young Bod is adopted by a ghostly couple who always wanted children. They will try to raise a human child as their own.

As Bod grows up, he encounters various ghostly characters, all the while wondering what life outside the cemetery would be like. But his family's murderer is still on the loose and, soon enough, he comes back to get him. He also learns to use their powers; fade to nothingness, walk through walls...

For every dark moment in this book, there is also a very funny one. Each chapter feels like a short story, a new adventure that Bod partakes in. In one chapter, he meets a young human girl that will soon become a long lost friend. In another, he is witness to the ghostly celebration that only happens once in a blue moon. In another, he is taken hostage by strange creatures and taken to a parallel world. In another, he meets ancient crypt keepers that are protecting a hidden treasure. The book never ceases to amaze or surprise.

Every page is drowned in Gaiman's wit, humor and sarcasm. It's rare that I can read a book where something makes me smile on every page. And although this is supposed to be a young adult novel, I had a great time reading it. I couldn't put it down. This book is in the same vein as Gaiman's Stardust; the kind of story that everyone can enjoy. A real gem. The only thing I wished for is more. I hope Gaiman revisits these characters one day soon!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Gaiman so far, October 16, 2009
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This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Hardcover)
Previous to this I've read Coraline, Stardust, and American Gods, each seeming to target a different reader age group. The Graveyard Book probably targets readers somewhere between Coraline and Stardust, but as a 25 year old, I enjoyed this novel more than the previous three, and I loved those to begin with. It combines the darkness of Coraline with the magic of Stardust and the delightful contemporization of mythological lore in the style of American Gods. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Corpses Can Make Good Council, December 10, 2008
This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Hardcover)
A smart tale of mystery and murder and the raising and education of a boy named Nobody Owens in a very old English graveyard. Written for older children but entertaining for adults, it is a hodge-podge of ideas and situations strung together that make up an amusing tale of intrigue and ghoulish fun.You grow up with Odd as he is called and watch him mature into a young man all under the guidance of a variety of dead people's ghosts who inhabit this particular place on earth.Very old dead people who,despite being from another time and place in history do a fairly good job of it.It begins with a curious murder and goes from there.Each ghostly spirit has a unique personality,and ample history surrounding their life and death. Each contribute something to Odds' upbringing and each has something to teach and do it willingly and dutifully.You will get to know them well and the graveyard layout as well. Tombs,graves,other dimensions and the borderland between our world and theirs are wonderfully described.A solid work of fiction and an enjoyable departure from the daily grind.Purely escapist but it will hold your attention well enough. After all, a graveyard is only spooky when you are on the outside looking in. Once inside its environs take on a whole new feel.This birthday gift from my daughter was well appreciated.Suspend belief for a few days enjoy and it too as I did.
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The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Hardcover - September 30, 2008)
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