Author: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Dave McKean
Year Published: 2008
Number of Pages: 312 pages
Date Read: 1/12/2013
Content Rating: Ages 13+ (Death, Murder and Some Scary Scenes)
“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”
That is pretty much the opening sentence to Neil Gaiman’s classic story, “The Graveyard Book,” so you definitely know what kind of book you are getting yourself into! After reading so many of Neil Gaiman’s fantastic books (“Coraline,” the “Sandman” series and “American Gods”), I just had to check out one of his most beloved young adult books, “The Graveyard Book” which also had the honor of winning the Newbery Medal Award! Filled with heartwarming scenes and your average creepy themes, “The Graveyard Book” is certain to be a hit with fans of Neil Gaiman’s works!
The book starts off with the murder of an innocent family, which was caused by a man named Jack (they call him “the man Jack” throughout the book). When the man Jack thought that he killed the whole family, it turns out that the youngest child, who was a baby boy, managed to escape from Jack and ran to the graveyard. Since Jack could not find the child, he decided to give off the chase. When the citizens of the graveyard found out that the young boy’s family was killed, a ghost couple named Mr. and Mrs. Owens, decided to raise the boy themselves and they called him Nobody Owens. After that, the young boy Nobody Owens begin having many adventures in the graveyard including meeting the frightening Sleer and meeting a human girl named Scarlett, while also trying to figure out who murdered his family.
Wow! I was totally blown away by the plot and the imagery in this book! As always, Neil Gaiman had crafted a brilliant story that not only revolves around the mystery of the murder of Nobody Owens’ real family, but also provided a heartwarming story about a young boy trying to discover who he really is and what he really wants out of life. I loved the way that Neil Gaiman made Nobody Owens into a sympathetic character who only wanted to see what life was like outside of the graveyard since he spent his whole life living in a graveyard and I often felt sorry for Nobody as his curiosity about the real world would not let him rest. It was also interesting in the way that Neil Gaiman mixed in the supernatural elements (such as Nobody Owens being able to fade so no one can see him and his ability to talk to the dead) into the story as it made the story extremely creative and creepy to read through! I really enjoyed the murder mystery aspect of the story as I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat trying to figure out if the man Jack will ever find Nobody Owens and how Nobody Owens would handle the man Jack if he ever comes across him! Dave McKean’s illustrations are simply gorgeous and creepy at the same time as the characters look a bit abstract, as their bodies are far too lean, but it fit the surreal atmosphere of the story! I also loved the way that Dave McKean shadowed the characters’ facial expressions as it made the characters look extremely dramatic and mysterious in every page they appear in. I also loved the creepy images of the graveyard as they really give off a mysterious and frightening feel to the story (the book is called “The Graveyard Book” after all!)
Even though this book is aimed at a young audience, there are some genuinely creepy moments in this book which includes what Nobody Owens did to two bullies at school and some readers might be a bit frightened at the creepy atmosphere of this book. Also, since there are many scenes of dead people talking to Nobody Owens, some readers would be frightened by the scenes of dead people walking around.
Overall, “The Graveyard Book” is a truly fantastic book for fans of Neil Gaiman’s works and books with ghost, monsters and friendly strange children!
* 2009 ALA Teens' Top Ten
* 2009 An ALA Notable Children's Book for Middle Readers
* 2009 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year
* 2009 British Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel
* 2009 Hugo Award for Best Novel
* 2009 Indies Choice Book Award for Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book (Fiction)
* 2009 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel
* 2009 Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee
* 2009 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children's Literature
* 2009 Newbery Medal
* 2009 World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel
* 2010 Carnegie Medal in Literature