Saturday, November 08, 2008

Okay, This One Was Good


Though I've enjoyed some of Neil Gaiman's work, I'm not what you might call a Gaiman Groupie. I'm not enthralled by everything he does.

His new novel, The Graveyard Book, is really good, though.

The book begins with a multiple murder, for those of us who enjoy getting right into the action. The one survivor, a toddler, ah, well, toddles off and ends up in an old cemetary where he is taken in by ghosts, adopted by a couple who've been members of the spirit class for a few hundred years, and given the run of the place. He's raised by the cemetary dwellers in the graveyard, the only save place for him because his family's murderer is still looking for him.

Personally, I think that's enough of a description to hook anyone. But I will add that the book is structured in what are pretty much short stories (Gaiman says so, too, in an interview with Jessa Crispin, which is really more him talking to her than her interviewing him), each one an adventure with our protagonist at a different age. And there's a lot of dark humor about the dead.

I have a couple of nitpicks. One, how did Bod know to go to a pawn shop or even how to find one when he left the graveyard to try to raise some money? Two, I found the art work odd. There's quite a bit of it, when you consider this is a novel, which is just fine. But the details in the early illustrations gave me the impression that the book might be set in the early twentieth century. It's definitely contemporary. Plus Bod is described as dressed in a winding sheet in the text early on, but he's shown in clothes in the illustrations.

But, yes, that is nitpicking.

The Graveyard Book is a Cybils nominee in the Fantasy and Science Fiction (Middle Grade) category. I think middle grade is a better description of it than YA, which is how it's categorized at my local library.

3 comments:

Bibliovore said...

Gail, I felt the same way! I can see this being an ideal October readaloud for a fourth or fifth-grade classroom, but it doesn't quite fit in a YA section no matter how many reviews tell me it does.

Cari Bookscoops said...

I am new to book blogging and saw that you also took up the challenge over at Mother Reader and so did I, which is good because I tend to be on the timid side.

Sounds like an interesting book. I have a niece who likes this type of ghost story. I personally don't like ghost stories - kind of creepy. I agree that their is another group of books for Middle Readers and then there is Young Adult. I think the thing that makes it hard, is there can be so much cross over. Some YA really could read this book and like it.

gail said...

Some adults could read this book and like it. (I did.) It also has a crime/thriller aspect.

Yes, classifying books for kids and YAs is very difficult. I'm sure there are some who'd say we shouldn't be trying to classify them, but it makes it hard to wade through all the books that are published each year if you can't pre-sort them somehow.

I'm glad someone who considers herself on the timid side felt welcome here.