The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Amazon link)
Rating: Very Good
Description: After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family...
Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.
Why I Picked This Book: I've been wanting to try Neil Gaiman's books for years and this one intrigued me.
My Impression: My only real exposure to Gaiman is through the episodes of Doctor Who that he's written and to be honest they weren't my favorite. They're on the weird side - even for that show and I just never really clicked with them. When I saw a review awhile ago for The Graveyard Book I knew that was one I wanted to start with. For one thing I love graveyards and love wandering through and looking at the names and inscriptions so I figured a book set in one couldn't go wrong. But I did wonder how on earth this could be a children's book? I mean there's a grisly murder in the first paragraph of the blurb!
But somehow Gaiman really does make this a children's book - a weird one yes but one I think a child in late elementary school would love. It's also one that I think captures the imagination of adults as well as it definitely captured mine! The story is told in a series of stories as Bod grows from a toddler into a young man. Each story gave me a better picture of the graveyard world he lives in and I felt like I got to know Bod himself better.
The book itself has an almost magical hazy quality that sharpens into focus with the telling of each individual story. The writing felt almost stark but also managed to bring the inhabitants of the graveyard to life. There is poignancy, sweetness, and humor running throughout the book with a constant undertone of dread. While it wasn't a book that I read in one sitting it was one that I was immediately pulled into anytime I put it up and one that stayed with me even when I wasn't reading. There is a bizarreness that wouldn't work for everyone but I think this would appeal to many readers. I've heard raves about the audio version and after reading this I can see how it would be amazing. I'd definitely "reread" this through audio.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! While I'm not sure I'm ready for his full on adult stories I'm looking forward to reading Coraline and Neverwhere soon.
Would I Recommend this Book?: I would but with some reservations. This is definitely a captivating story but you have to be in the right mood for it and be okay with a heaping spoonful of magical.