Next up: “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman
This is a stand-alone children’s book by Gaiman.
This is the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, who grows up the only living denizen of a graveyard. You see, when Bod was a toddler, his entire family was murdered, but little Bod had toddled out of the house and into a nearby graveyard, escaping the slaughter. And the ghosts (ahem) ‘living’ in the graveyard adopted Bod, protecting him from discovery by the murderer, teaching him ghostly skills such as Fading or Haunting.
By and large, Bod doesn’t have much interaction with the living until he becomes a little older. The book documents his first interactions with an outsider, his attempts to attend real school outside of the graveyard, and other various adventures. The main plot develops when it becomes known that the man who murdered Bod’s family is looking for the toddler he had failed to kill. Bod must use everything he knows about the graveyard and his ghostly skills, and rely on both his normal and supernatural friends to put an end to the murderer’s plots.
This was a fun book with just the right amount of creepy to delight kids without horrifying them. If you’ve read or watched “Coraline” (also by Gaiman), it has that same feel. I thought the development of the story felt a little awkwardly paced, but it pulls together nicely at the end. I appreciate that not everything was explained fully as soon as it is introduced, providing a couple of those ‘aha!’ sort of moments.
As with a lot of Gaiman’s novels, I still felt like the world and characters were a little under-utilized. It felt like everything should be bigger, or like I was looking at the world without my glasses– seeing vague shapes but not the full picture (a shame because the full picture promised to be lovely). I’m not sure if this would have bothered me as much if I’d been a kid when I read this. Maybe it’s the scientist in me that gets twitchy, wanting to pick apart the world and see how it works but not having enough detail to do so.