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.