The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)

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.


  1. @ramblingperfectionist:
    There’s a really cheap edition. Only downside, it’s illustrated by Chris Ridell and not Dave McKean. At least, in Europe there’s these two editions.

    Why? Why do you have to make me jealous?
    So cool. I wish he would come to Austria for a tour. Or at least enter continental Europe…

  2. I agree, a new adult novel would be good… have you heard the online version of The Graveyard Book? I’m undecided, I’m on an audiobook kick at the moment but maybe I want to savour this one in paper?

    I met N.G when he came to Brisbane, about 2, maybe 3 years ago. It was awesome, except for the part where “Harry Potter & the Halfblood Prince” had just come out about a week ago, I hadn’t read it yet, and he gave away the big secret… I was kind of devastated because I worshipped the guy so much but he’d just callously ruined my life!!

  3. No, I didn’t listen to the audio version yet. I wanted to read the book first and haven’t had time since I finished to plunge into that.

    You too? Am I the only person, who hasn’t met NG yet?
    But I can understand your frustration when it comes to being “spoilered”. [It’s been a while since I read HP & the Halfblood Prince but wasn’t the secret pretty obvious anyway?] I hate it, when that happens. Especially coming from a person I really like.

    Deadra once told me the big twist of The Sixth Sense, convinced that I’d seen it already. Which I hadn’t. And when I saw it, the movie kind of sucked. Which might be Mr. Shyamalan’s fault, but I can imagine myself getting blown away by the twist. [Although I can also see myself knowing the twist beforehand.]

    Anyway, I got my “revenge” when I told deadra the ending of Fight Club, thinking that she knew already… Ever since, we’re both more cautious. ;)

    Talking about HP spoilers reminds me of one of my favourite internet videos – I don’t know if it was real or not, but any which way it was great. As I can’t search for it right now, I’ll describe it to you.

    [Includes SPOILERS to HP & the Halfblood Prince]

    You can see a line in front of a bookstore, patiently waiting for midnight, when the doors will open and they’ll be able to get the new Harry Potter.
    Our film crew sits in a white van, pointing the camera at the line. The van slowly drives up to the people there and the guy with the camera shouts, “Snape kills Dumbledore!”
    Then they step on it and you can hear the clunks of things being thrown at the car and enraged screams in the background.


  4. @K-fud: I was not trying to make you jealous. I would have mailed you the photo I took with him I wanted to do that. LOL. You know, it was quite a shock to see him there. And the funny thing is, I saw his back first. I recognized him from the leather jacket and crumpled hair.

  5. @baph:
    You can still mail me the photo, then I can put it in my purse and show everyone and say, “look, I know this guy who is on the photo with Neil Gaiman.” ;)

    I can imagine that it was quite a shock… but that you’d recognise from behind is cool…

  6. @Kalafudra: Yeah, it was quite a shock. I was shaking a bit after wards. Salman Rushdie was there too. Couldnt get a photo with him since he was running a little late for his interview. You should listen to him speak – concise, intelligent and very very knowledgeable.

    I dunno if you’ve seen this video, check it out –
    Its a conversation on the idea of “Homeland” with Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.