Bod is alive, but all the people around him are not. Nobody Owens has been raised by a family of ghosts and other Otherworldly Beings. They have taught him everything they know, although not much about the outside world. The Graveyard Book follows Bod as he learns about this strange world he resides in, and as he grows up.
The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
Narrated by Neil Gaiman
❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal, Childrens, Ghosts, Middle Grade, Supernatural, Mystery
Published By: Harper Audio in 2008
Original Publication: HarperCollins in 2008 (US Hardcover Edition)
Format: Digital Audiobook (7 hours, 47 minutes)
Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him.
Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead?
I wasn’t really sure what to think going into this book, and when it began with a baby sliding down the stairs in the dark, I was BORED. Then I gave it another couple of chapters and there were Scarlett and the Sleer, and I was hooked! I’m so glad I’ve finally come across another Neil Gaiman book that I really enjoy.
Bod is the most likable character I’ve seen in a while. Not likable like Sorina in Daughter of the Burning City or Percy in The Lightning Thief… likable in that: if you met him on the street, you’d like him immediately. He was sweet, personable, and genuine. The only mean things he ever really did were in self-defense. Even then, he could have done much worse.
Sylas and the ghosts were all very likable as well, and I enjoyed the different ones that Bod interacted with as he grew. A graveyard, especially the old ones in Europe, are filled with an incredible variety of people and characters, and Gaiman used all these different people from all these different eras to bring Bod’s story to life. LOVED IT.
Neil Gaiman is VERY VERY GOOD at building a magical world just beyond our reach. Regardless of whether or not I have always enjoyed his books, I LOVE his worlds. It makes you think. I live in New England and we have SCORES of old graveyards up here, with stones very faded and cracked. A small part of me is curious to walk the paths of one and see if I can find the gnome gate. THAT is how good he is at building worlds.
I didn’t expect this book to be more than short stories until we got to the chapter about Everyman Jack. I got lot in it, got lost in Bod’s misadventures. I really thought we were just going to watch him grow up and grow old and eventually die and join the graveyard, but we didn’t. IN ALL FAIRNESS from reading the summary, it’s perfectly possible Nobody Owens’ life could have been the plot. But it wasn’t, and I’m not sure I like it better with the solving of a murder.
BUT. I did like how he managed it all, so A+ Bod.
Writing / Narration
Sometimes, Neil Gaiman’s writing can feel very slow. At least, that is how I perceive it. The formatting of this book, in particular, works PERFECTLY with his writing style, because it is a bunch of short stories wrapped up into one longer tale. I was also a bit concerned about him narrating the book (as he did with The Ocean at the End of the Lane), but it was a non-issue and I was able to separate the books (EVEN THOUGH Liza Hempstock sounds the same as Letty Hempstock… though that worked out nicely).
I GENUINELY enjoyed this book. And I’m excited about it, because I hate being that one person at the book party (lol, because THOSE happen #introvertsFTW!) who is banished to the corner for not being a HUGE OMG I LOVE HIM SO MUCH fan of Neil Gaiman. Now I can say “a couple of his books are quite good” and be utterly pleased with that. There’s a lot to like here – the history, the mystery, the characters and each of their stories… I would definitely read it again, and this one needs to be added to my personal library.
ALSO… confession. I did not even consider that Sylas was a vampire until I started looking at these alternate covers. It makes sense! I feel a bit silly for not thinking of it.
The end made me sad. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”
“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”
“Name the different kinds of people,’ said Miss Lupescu. ‘Now.’
Bod thought for a moment. ‘The living,’ he said. ‘Er. The dead.’ He stopped. Then, ‘… Cats?’ he offered, uncertainly.”
“You’re brave. You are the bravest person I know, and you are my friend. I don’t care if you are imaginary.”
“And he waited. It was only for a few seconds, but it felt like a small forever.”
I like to be able to recommend similar books, or tell people if I think they’d like this book based on what they’ve read before… with The Graveyard Book, I’m not really sure where to point. I can’t conjure a character who has been quite like Bod, nor any other story set in a graveyard that has been so sweet and peaceful. I would suggest any of of Nail Gaiman’s writing, however. He has a unique style and most people who like one of his books like several.