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The Graveyard Book Hardcover – September 30, 2008
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- Publisher : HarperCollins; First Edition/Second Printing (September 30, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0060530928
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060530921
- Reading age : 10 - 13 years
- Lexile measure : 820L
- Grade level : 5 - 6
- Item Weight : 14.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.14 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #49,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Gaiman is an extraordinary, a gifted wordsmith. His sentences are beautiful - really, read them aloud. He is a master of tone and of place. He is an efficient writer, and there are not many of them around, at least in F&SF. But...
But he is a poor story teller. His fascinating characters shuffle around, and they learn a technique or two, and they experience, and they try to learn some more. But they never have significant interactions that create conflict and resolution, and thus a sense of satisfaction at the end of his tales. And they NEED that because everything about his work is mythic, fundamental, playful in the depths of us all. There are lessons you have to teach us, Gaiman, and there are lessons we have to learn from you. You must not remain aloof from the drama of humanness, buddy.
And so here, in "The Graveyard Book," we have the sudden realization from Gaiman somewhere around the two-thirds mark that, maybe, he'd better get moving and try to find some ending so he can call it a day and have a beer. He has to bring back a character from early on just for the occasion. Evil grows a little gray hair and masquerades as a lover of roasted potatoes (which, I suppose, is the kind of thing we might fear most about true evil - its true banality; except in a mythic construction, darn it!)
And so the reader is, ultimately, left slack-jawed. What just happened? A bad guy broke his ankle? That is Justice, capital J? Don't set us up for sequels ("Um. Silas. If you're ever in trouble, call me. I'll come and help.") if you haven't fully established heroic perseverance from the gitgo.
So, yes, read this book because Gaiman writes as one should write. He just hasn't discovered how to create - yet.... And when he does, it will be, well, very special.
Gaiman spins the tale of Nobody Owens, a child who escaped the mysterious murder of his birth family and is taken in by none other than the ghosts at the local graveyard. Under the watchful eye of his new, ghostly parents and an otherworldly guardian named Silas, tiny "Bod," as he comes to be known, makes the land within the graveyard his own.
But as he grows, questions arise: why isn't Bod allowed to leave the graveyard? Will the one human girl he met as a small child ever return to visit? Who is searching for this innocent boy, and why does Silas leave him, for weeks at a time, under the watchful eye of taciturn Miss Lupescu? Who - or WHAT - lives deep within the bowels of darkest, most forbidding hillside at the edge of the graveyard?
The complicated answers to all of this and much more Gaiman weaves together into a beautiful, terrifying blanket, and in so doing, he shows his readers that it is only the most porous (and important) of curtains that separates life and death, that magic still exists, and that love cannot be limited by any boundaries, no matter how impenetrable they may seem. Truly, a book for all ages. An instant classic.
Top reviews from other countries
An assassin of legendary reputation has been given a simple job or wiping out the Dorian family. He kills Mum and Dad, easily enough, and the little girl tucked in her bed with her teddy too. But somehow baby Dorian has escaped from his cot, slid downstairs using his nappy to cushion his bottom and slipped out of the front door that Jack neglected to close behind himself. But Jack soon picks up his trail that leads him up a hill to a grave-yard so old that its become a nature-reserve. But at the graveyard the baby’s trail disappears. This is the first-time that he has failed to complete a job and Jack is avowed that he will one day finish what he has started. The baby, however, has not disappeared. At the bequest of his dead mother, the graveyard’s ghosts have agreed to give the baby the freedom of the graveyard, to be raised by Mr and Mrs Owen (who hadn’t had children during their lives) and with Silas (the vampire) to be his godfather and bring him food. Bod grows up to learn everything that the ghosts of his graveyard can teach him, including a number of supernatural powers, like turning invisible and walking through walls. He’s going to need all of his abilities soon, because Jack is still outside somewhere looking for him.
The book follows Bod in the latter half of his childhood, though his misadventures and lessons in life (and death) from the odd denizens of the graveyard. Despite his strange upbringing and postcode, Bod comes across as a normal boy, curious about the world around him (and beneath him), bored off lessons and somewhat lonely. His friends consist of a long dead, but still young at heart and in appearance, witch and a living girl called Scarlett who has to move away after visiting an ancient tomb beneath hill. This being a Neil Gaiman book, we are also treated to a whole panoply of quirky characters, including the ghosts of the graveyard, ranging from Roman Britain up to the Victorian period, Silas, the velvet wearing vampire, and a bunch of ghouls (notable mentions, the Bishop of Bath and the Duke of Wellington). It is the vast supporting cast that really make this book so enjoyable and worth reading.
The main setting of the story is the graveyard itself, with its little chapel, Egyptian walkway, a ghoul gate and its unhallowed ground. Really, the graveyard is as much a character in the book as its stuffy and mortified residents, to the point that through reading the book, the graveyard will become as familiar a place to you as it is to Bod, and you will be able to sense its moods too. There are a few brief detours during the course of the book to a secondary school, Scarlett’s house, the Dorian house, the ghouls’ world and Africa too.
This book is pitched by the publisher as a children’s novel/YA, but the opening is rather chilling and serious. Despite the intended audience, Gaiman writes as flawlessly as ever, never condescending in tone or style, and that will no doubt be a huge factor in the longevity and universal appeal of this book. Its definitely made favorite books list and is amongst Gaiman’s best.
He is a baby.
He does not know his name.
He finds shelter in a graveyard.
The ghosts who live in the graveyard, claim him and name him as No'bod'y.
Bod becomes one of them whilst still alive. He has a guardian, Silas and parents Mr and Mrs Owens, teachers throughout the cemetery who educate him on all scholarly and ghostly matters.
But the man who killed his REAL family still needs to complete his mission and that is to kill the one who got away. Can Bod survive to live another day or will the ghostly world in which he inhabits finally shut him out forever?
This fantasy book is predominantly aimed at children aged 9 - 12 and I think perhaps less advanced readers would struggle with it, vocabulary wise but would certainly enjoy the pace of the story. There are parts of the book where the plot was certainly lost on me and it had very resonant elements of the Harry Potter series, which could be a double edged sword. Youngsters might find it good to progress to such a fantasy book as this whilst others might find it is a disappoint without much reasoned explanation for why Bod's family are killed.
The latter being what I found as I thought at one point I had missed a huge chunk of the book out as to why Bod needed to be killed. However I think perhaps with adult eyes we look for more reasoned explanations whilst as children we would simply go with the flow.
Each chapter is a story within itself and they are all page turners and it was an enjoyable read with the right amount of fantasy, reality and enough creepiness without feeling too scared to read on. A book for all to enjoy.
The graveyard is inhabited by ghostly residents including a couple, Mr and Mrs Owens, who find the baby. They then see the ghost of a woman who has recently been killed and is begging them to protect her child from the man who killed her. They agree to do so. When Jack arrives at the graveyard there is no sign of the baby, only a strange man who convinces him that he was mistaken about seeing the child.
The Graveyard book tells the story of how a young boy comes to be raised by ghosts, and a guardian, Silas, who is neither dead nor alive (although it is not clarified his characteristics suggest he is a reformed vampire). They name the boy Nobody Owens and everyone calls him Bod. Bod is very inquisitive (which is just as well as this saved his life in the first place), and as such he gets himself into all sorts of trouble. It is made clear to him that he needs to stay inside the graveyard to be safe from the dangers outside. Does he obey and remain inside the graveyard? Of course not.
All the while the man Jack continues to search for him in order to finish the job he was contracted to do. It is a mystery as to why Bod's family were murdered and why it would seem someone is out to get Bod as well. Silas goes away a lot and it transpires that he is trying to get to the bottom of the mystery.
This is a wonderful read for children of an appropriate age. Although the premise sounds scary, the plot is not (okay maybe just a little). What I got from it was more about the importance of family and friendship and the lengths one will go to to protect the ones they love.
It is extremely well-written and I would highly recommend it for encouraging a non-reading child to do just that (get reading that is).