Half-Assed Book Review: The Graveyard Book

Okay, it’s time to try out something new. I’m going to do a book review! Since I’ve never really done one before, I have already lowered your expectations by tacking ‘half-assed’ onto the title of this post. If I have failed to achieve this effect, go back and read it again. Good now? Okay, let’s begin. I’m going to review the book that I just finished reading, The Graveyard Book.The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman of Coraline fame, is a unique book. I have not read Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, but I’m told that this book is to some small degree an homage to it. It is, for the most part, a book about Nobody. Nobody Owens, that is. Nobody’s entire family is murdered at the beginning of the book, but the curious infant, oblivious to any danger, merely crawls off to the nearby graveyard before the murderer can get him. Bidden by the ghosts of his parents who fade within moments, two ghosts in the graveyard decide to care for and raise the child.

The book chronicles Nobody’s (referred to by his nickname Bod) childhood and teens, played out on the backdrop of a graveyard filled with all manner of ghosts and spirits, as well as Bod’s enigmatic guardian Silas, who is neither dead nor alive. Haunting and ghoul-gates are intertwined with the usual parts of growing up, like school and girls. At the same time, Gaiman slowly unveils the truth behind the murder of Bod’s family.

Despite being billed as a fantasy/horror novel by Wikipedia, The Graveyard Book is more humorous than horrifying. The closest it comes to horror is not so much it being scary as it containing similar elements to typical horror, like ghosts and vampires. And even if those things might turn you off normally, the humanity of the characters, regardless of form, comes across clearly enough that one might forget what exactly it is they’re reading about, until a character fades into the mist or something.

An interesting feature of this book is the fact that it lies somewhere between a novel and a short story collection. It tells a complete narrative, and doesn’t stop to refresh your memory constantly, but each chapter is a mostly a self-contained story, telling a year or two of Bod’s life. This makes it easy to read in smaller amounts, which is pointless for some, but invaluable when your time is on a budget.

With its fantastic blend of horror and humour, the mundane and the fantastic, The Graveyard Book definitely gets my wholehearted recommendation.

…Was that okay? I didn’t really have much of an idea as to what I was doing, and I didn’t really know how far was too far in terms of the story, but hopefully you’ve got a good idea of what the book’s all about, and maybe even an interest in reading it. Like this review? Throw me some feedback in the comment section. Or don’t, I’m not gonna force you to. I guess that’s all for now.



About Shard

I'm a reader, a writer, a gamer, and various other things.

Posted on February 12th, 2010, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The review seems just fine. 🙂 Good first attempt! I love Neil Gaiman, and definately plan to read this book. Have you read “Stardust” yet? It’s an awesome graphic novel. It’s also a movie now, too! 🙂

  2. I have not, but between what I’ve seen in The Graveyard Book and a title like that, I’m definitely gonna check it out. Thanks for the feedback and the tip!

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