I picked this book up at ConDFW over the weekend. I love Neil Gaiman’s work, truly. My first experience with him was Neverwhere, a great, surreal, and exciting read.
The Graveyard Book, like the title suggests, is set in a graveyard. A young boy, Nobody Owens, called Bod, is tragically orphaned as a toddler, and through a series of strange circumstances, ends up being raised by a graveyard full of ghosts.
This story, like all of Neil Gaiman’s work, is incredibly unique. However, I felt that it would have been better served over a trilogy than written as a one-shot novel. The story had a distinctly rushed or unfinished feel to it, as we follow Bod through his growing up years in the world of the dead.
Of course, this is meant as a young adult book, which Gaiman is just starting to venture into. The common thread throughout the story is that of the graveyard denizens protecting Bod from the man responsible for orphaning him, and Bod seeking explanations and revenge, as well as acceptance in normal human society after growing up among ghosts and ghouls. Very serious themes for a YA book, but handled pretty well, I thought.
His other YA work, Coraline, has been recently released as an animated movie, which I highly recommend going to see. We took Water Boy, and even at the tender age of two, he was completely captivated by the story. I haven’t read the novel the movie is based off of, so I can’t compare that work to this.
Perhaps Neil Gaiman needs to be told that it’s okay to stretch out a tale. YA readers are definitely capable of following a series, as evidenced by the famous Harry Potter books. It seems to me that with his work on the Sandman comics series, he might already be aware of this, though.
I do hope he keeps delving into this genre, because I feel that even with its flaws, The Graveyard Book is one of the best young adult books I’ve read so far this year. I enjoyed it a whole lot more than Twilight, for example.