Monday, December 27, 2010

The Graveyard Book

After his family was murdered, a little boy wanders into a graveyard, where the ghosts decide to let him live with them and protect him from the murderer still searching for hi. Raised by spirits, the boy, named Nobody, will stay with his adoptive parents and guardians until he reaches manhood.

I got a lot of money for Christmas (people never know what to get me, so they opt for gift cards for book shops), and The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, is the first book I bought with my new (and temporary) riches. Wonderful, wonderful book, in all aspects, and even if it's sometimes labelled as a children's book, it's much more than that.

First of all, I had never personally seen a story about a child being raised by ghosts, in a graveyard. Sure, there are lots of ghost stories out there, but this one struck me as truly unique, and was well enough executed to excuse any resemblances to other novels.

The characters are amazing. Bod, short for Nobody, is growing up in a graveyard. Obviously, he's different from the other children, and Gaiman really has the trick to make his characters believable. Bod really grows throughout the novel, and has an amazing depth I can only admire. The crew of ghosts and spirits that raises Bod is also very diversified, and though none of them are as well developed as Bod himself, they are all unique.

The way this story was written was in a series of short stories, memorable moments of Bod's childhood. Most of them don't have much of a link between them, but that doesn't really matter. The tales of Bod's life are all equally adorable and they all draw you into the story. What I really liked, though, was how even though each story could stand alone, there was an actual plot : Jack wants, needs, to kill Bod. It was introduced in the first chapter, and concluded in the last, each story bringing its own contribution to the evolution of the story.

The only thing this book lacked was explanation. The book raised many, many questions, and hardly any of them were actually answered. Who is the Honour Guard, what do they do, how did they come to be? Where do the Jacks of All Trades come from, what is their purpose, who prophesied their death? I wish the book had provided answers to all these questions and more.

Overall, even though many side stories and plots in the book were left hanging, I thought it was a wonderful book. I didn't stop reading for an instant once I opened it. I read on the ride home, on the sofa, on the other sofa when my brother pushed me out of the TV room. I read it in a single sitting, and I couldn't have put it down if I had wanted to. I recommend it to everyone, young and old. It has the power to charm any reader, even if the years during which they were Bod's age are far, far away. After all, this childhood tale is, as Neil Gaiman said himself, also one about parenting.


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Rating : 9/10

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