Monday, April 9, 2012

"The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

320 pages

Nobody Owens--"Bod" to his friends--is, in many ways, a normal little boy. He's curious, loves to play outside, and sometimes gets in trouble with his parents. On the other hand, he's grown up in a graveyard. When he was a toddler, a mysterious man named Jack murdered his family. Bod was the real target, but he escaped and wandered into a nearby graveyard. A couple of elderly ghosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens, fell in love with him and took him in as their own, giving him the magical protection of the graveyard. This means Bod is safe within the cemetery's walls, but all bets are off when he leaves. As he grows older, the outside world begins to beckon...

This is the first children's book of Neil Gaiman's that I've read, and it turns out that he's just as awesome writing for kids as adults (no surprise here). He has some special way of creating an atmosphere that's creepy and appealing all at once. Somehow, "The Graveyard Book" gave me both the chills and the warm fuzzies, almost at the same time. Here's a kid who is living in an environment that most children would consider horrifying, and yet for him, it's home. Ghosts are his friends instead of something scary. In fact, it's the outside world that's to be feared. He is loved and he knows it, but because he's alive and everyone around him is dead, he never quite feels like he fits in. Bod loves his family, but he's not sure if he's meant to stay in the graveyard and hide from Jack for his entire life. The world is frightening, but he knows he's got to face it. What we end up with is a story about a boy who's often insecure and lonely, a boy who loves his home but realizes that he's got to go out in the big scary world in order to meet his destiny. Who can't relate to that? Not to mention that it's just a plain old entertaining story!

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