All of you, who read my blog at least semi-regularly, will know that I’m a Neil Gaiman fan. So, of course, I bought his new book The Graveyard Book right away. [If you want to know more details: I got the hardcover adult edition, illustrated by Dave McKean.]
The book is about Bod, short for Nobody, Owens. His parents are killed by the man Jack and he is adopted and raised by some ghosts on a graveyard near his home. Each chapter is one short story, which could more or less stand alone, describing one event in his life. They are all set at one, two years intervals.
I liked the book, and I basically gobbled it up.
The illustrations are wonderful, but I wouldn’t expect any less from Dave McKean.
It’s a sweet story, but the story alone wouldn’t be much, I’m afraid. What makes the book good are the details. The way Bod finds his way around the graveyard, using the headstone inscriptions. The headstone inscriptions themselves. Silas [I really, really loved that character and the way he’s described]. The Jacks.
Bod stays a bit intangible, which is probably what Gaiman was going for: Bod has a ghostlike quality to him, it’s not easy to grasp him as a character. While this is a great concept, it makes it really hard to get Bod, to understand him and feel with him, which are necessary prerequisites to wanting him to succeed and to fight for him and to love him.
And I think that’s the crux of the whole book – I realise it’s a great piece of writing, but I couldn’t find an entry point that made me love it. [Which, btw, is equally true of The Jungle Book for me, so I guess he was very successful in his homage.] I know that that’s a very personal perception, therefore, my recommendation still stands.
Personally, I wish, Gaiman would go back to writing novels for adults… I like his children’s books, no doubt about it. But what made me fall in love with his work are his novels for adults. And I would like to read something in that category again.