Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I’ve kept this book hidden since May this year, often reading what I initially saw as more “exciting” books in my previous book reviews. While I did have joy in reading those books, I believe I felt as if I betrayed myself by putting this book on hold for such a long time.
This book is simply amazing. I’ve never read anything quite like it. Gaiman states he drew inspiration from The Jungle Book, which is about a child raised by animals. Truth be told, this book does share an awful lot of similarity with its inspiration but it’s nothing short of original and witty when it comes to delivery and concept.
You see, the book is about a boy who lives in a graveyard inhabited by the dead. Being the great storyteller that he is, Gaiman exploited the idea of a world where the dead can become kind and warm, and the living, treacherous and cold. It was splendidly done and I wouldn’t have written it any other way (save for a few, uh, unfortunate and sad events but I’m sure I’ll get over them someday.)
This book, in a general context, is about growing up and we, as readers and overseers, get to witness how a child’s view of the world changes as it gets older and wiser despite the child being constantly unaware of the changes it undergoes.The book explores what it would be like to be raised by people who knew what life was all about and what better representation than the dead? The living are still learning until they die but the dead have learned all they needed to learn. In short, dead people make perfect family!
It also challenges the idea of what is good and what is evil; not just what is right or wrong but what also makes those actions right or wrong. Specially near the end where the main character had trouble comprehending whether what he did was wrong or right.
Points in the story I loved:
- Dark plot but the flow of the story makes it feel like a child’s book (which I think it is anyway)
- Amazing ensemble of characters
- Imaginative concepts about life, death, and the in-between specially the characters involved
- Hempstock reference. I liked Lettie Hempstock in “Ocean” but I think I have a crush on Liza Hempstock here
- Liza and Bod pairing (Sorry Scarlett) and their “kiss” 😉 (You’re too slow Bod. Too slow.)
- Silas, Lupescu, and the whole “Honour Guard” idea
- The Jacks as a reference to “world evil”
- The Lady on the Grey = Angel of Death
- The bittersweet ending
What I didn’t like about the book:
- No backstory for the more interesting characters
- No backstory for the organizations specially the Honour Guard and The Jacks
- Not knowing Bod’s real name (it doesn’t matter but it would’ve been nice to know)
- Not much story about Liza and Scarlett and their interactions with Bod
- Too short for such a great novel!
This book is a cleverly disguised page turner. It’s not fast paced yet it kept you wanting to read the next page. How does an author do that? It became such a page turner right near the end. I lost sleep reading the penultimate chapter because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep well without knowing how it ended!
P.S. Here’s my favorite quote:
“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.”