The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

‘Face your life
Its pain, its pleasure,
Leave no path untaken’
~ p306

Having read raving reviews from various bloggers and known that The Graveyard Book had won this year’s Newbery award, I couldn’t help but pick it up. Also I needed to read more Neil Gaiman’s because people can’t seem to stop talking about him.

The Graveyard Book tells the story of Bod (short for Nobody Owens) who was adopted by the graveyard folks soon after his family got killed when he was a baby. That’s the gist of it. I didn’t realize until the end, when I read Gaiman’s acknowledgments that the book could very well be a riff of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

The book started out very strong, then it felt a bit like a collection of short stories for a while, then picked up the pace again near the end. The parts where it was like a bunch of short stories were nice, but I felt like I didn’t get the point. But luckily the characters appeared again at the end, justifying the short stories’ existence at the least. So there goes my criticism. Now on to the good parts.

I thought the storyline wasn’t very strong, in a sense that it’s sort of predictable and characters are neatly divided between good and evil. But that’s probably what you’d expect out of a YA book, I’m not sure. (Or is it children book?) I haven’t read a lot of YAs. Having said that, I love the characters. I care about Bod, his parents, the graveyard folks, and Silas (Bod’s guardian). Now Silas is cool. I wish there could be more stories about him, how he came to be (especially when there’s that hint at the end of the book), what he does outside of the graveyard, and so on. A spin-off about Silas would be great :)

The ending is great too. I almost teared a bit. Nice closure. It’s a unique book in terms of setting and atmosphere. So yes I’d recommend it for people who are looking for an enjoyable book that is safe with just the right amount of adventure, mystery, fantasy, and cuteness.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (I’m kinda torn between 4 and 4.5. Some parts of the book I rated 4 and some 4.5.)
Pages: 307
Publication year: 2008

2009 Newbery Medal

First line
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

Last line
But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.


“You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written yor name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.” ~ Silas, p179

[‘Do you know what you’re going to do now?’ she asked.]
‘See the world,’ said Bod. ‘Get into trouble. Get out of trouble again. Visit jungles and volcanoes and deserts and islands. And people. I want to meet an awful lot of people.’ ~ p306

Also reviewed by

The raving reviews: The Hidden Side of Leaf | Becky’s Book Reviews | Stainless Steel Droppings | Stuff As Dreams Are Made On | The Written World | Melody’s Reading Corner | Nothing of Importance | Bold. Blue. Adventure. | Things Mean A Lot | Rhinoa’s Ramblings | Books and Other Thoughts | A High and Hidden Place | Geekgirl Unveiled | Hello, My Name is Alice | Tip of the Iceberg | The Novel World | Fashionista Piranha | You Can Never Have Too Many Books | Bart’s Bookshelf | Flying the Stone Kite | Rob Around Books | 1morechapter | Lesa’s Book Critiques | Em’s Bookshelf | Renay | Books and Movies | Devourer of Books | Book Nut | A Life in Books | Ticket to Anywhere | It’s All About Books | Kelly Vision | Stitches by the Sea | From My Bookshelf | Lazy’s Library | Bibliophile Stalker | Flying Teapot | BiblioAddict | In Spring it is the Dawn

The less-than-excellent reviews (the book not the reviews): The Bluestocking Society (probably the closest to my own thoughts) | Fyrefly’s Book Blog | Worducopia (this one’s so funny!) | Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review | Maw Books Blog | The Fickle Hand of Fate | Bookshelves of Doom | Ready When You Are, C.B.

You know, I’m sure there are many more reviews out there for this book. But I need to sleep. And find a job, whatever. Meanwhile, Fyrefly has this really cool book blogs search engine, which is great if you’d like to search people’s reviews and link theirs to yours. I did that for the Graveyard Book and realized my linking task was far from end. Yes yes it’s a popular book. If you have a book blog and hasn’t been listed there, please leave her a message so she can include your blog too.

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15 thoughts on “The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman”

  1. Wow! I had no idea how many reviews there were of this one out there until I saw them all gathered here, lol. I’m glad you enjoyed this one! I loved it! I’ve noticed that you and I have extremely similar taste in books! Might I suggest American Gods by Neil Gaiman? It’s one of my all time favorite books!

  2. Suko: This is probably the first Newbery winner that I read though, so I have no comparison.

    Chris: You think so? I’ll keep it in mind then. Thanks for the recommendation :)

  3. “The parts where it was like a bunch of short stories were nice, but I felt like I didn’t get the point.”
    I’ve read other books where I get this feeling too.. some I’ve even set down because of it.. it’s almost like the author is writing for a different level of person in the middle of the book.. i find that strange and it puts me off

  4. I haven’t read the other Newbery winners, but what you said should be true. Perhaps that is why I don’t delve much into children/YA books.

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