6 June 2012

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is perhaps best known for writing Stardust (made into the 2007 movie of the same name), Coraline (also made into a film) and Good Omens, which he collaborated on with none other than Terry Pratchett. While these books are both absolutely brilliant, Gaiman's other books also have so much to offer you as a reader.

The Graveyard Book starts with the murder of a family by a mysterious man known only as Jack. But Jack isn't entirely successful, and the baby escapes to the nearby graveyard where two ghosts decide to take him in and protect him. Bod grows up with the ghostly residents of the graveyard, playing with the ghost children and learning the tricks of the trade. But soon enough the graveyard is too small, and Bod wants to explore more of the world around him. Meanwhile, the man Jack has been biding his time, and he still wants to finish what he started.

This book, first and foremost, is a ghost story and a tale of revenge. It features a host of paranormal characters and includes a few creative concepts that children may find a little disturbing. So although this is a children's book, think of it as similar in scaryness to Coraline (which features people with buttons for eyes). I love the way that Gaiman has written the reasons why we do not normally see the dead or feel them, and how he has integrated these ideas with Bod's story.

The characters are numerous for such a small book, but Gaiman does an excellent job of developing each one as much as he needs to according to their role. Bod, however, is quite a strange protagonist, as we cannot easily understand him. I think that this adds to the story rather than takes away from it. After all, wouldn't you be odd if you had grown up in a graveyard?

Gaiman's style of writing is good in the way that it keeps the reader so effortlessly entertained. At the beginning the writing style is a little confusing where Gaiman uses grammatically incorrect sentences for effect. However, I feel that this keeps the reader on their toes, which can be difficult for an adult reader with a children's book.

As for the plot, it is an entertaining and dramatic ride that is never dull. I have come to expect this from Neil Gaiman after reading a fair few of his books. There are a couple of nice twists, albeit one that an adult reader may see coming.

An excellent piece of storytelling. 9 out of 10.