5 out of 5 Stars
Our library system, like many others across the nation, runs a reading program for kids and adults over the summer. We were a little late signing up this year, but as soon as we got back from our boat trip, we headed up to the library to sign up. While we were there we were looking for some new graphic novels to read. I came across part 4 of a graphic novel called The Graveyard Book. Not wanting to start near the middle or end we asked if they could get us the earlier versions, and they did one better, they had the actual novel!
The story is quite dark and dreary to begin with. A family is murdered in the first few pages. The mother, father and daughter are killed by a ‘man Jack’. The baby finds a way to leave the house and the ‘man Jack’ pursues the baby to kill him. The baby climbs into a graveyard that is up the hill from his house and the ghosts of the graveyard decide to protect him. He is given the protection of the graveyard, ghost parents called Mr. & Mrs. Owens, a guardian called Sirus, and lots of friends. He isn’t to leave the graveyard as he is protected there. The ‘man Jack’, while Sirus has him confused for a bit, is still is on the look out for the baby. We don’t find out why until much later in the book.
The ghosts in the graveyard don’t know the baby’s name or where he came from despite his recently deceased mother coming to the graveyard to plead for his protection. They agree to protect him and call him Nobody Owens, or Bod for short. As he grows his challenges and curiosities develop and change. He learns about the world of the dead and the world of the living and as he gets older he starts to wonder more about himself and where he came from.
The heart in the books is amazing. The writing is beautiful and the imagination wonderful. While Mr. Gaiman was inspired by “The Jungle Book”, this book has little trace of that influence, but is very original in it’s telling. The chapters are on the longer side at around 30 pages each, which might be intimidating for younger reader, but is great for the more advanced. The graphics are really beautiful and dark and haunting. I loved them. Like I mentioned there are also graphic novel versions of this book that might be even more appealing for kids who want to read this on their own. My son read the graphic novel version and loved it.
While the novel is on the darker side, nothing is very graphic per se, but I would recommend it for older kids (I am thinking 10 and up). They consider it a middle grade reader however, so consider that if it helps you decide if it is right for your kids. My son read it at 9 years old. He didn’t find the content too scary or too much. He can handle much scarier things than I can though.
I really loved this book and would recommend it for both kids and adults. It is one that will be perfect to read together too. I have a feeling parents will enjoy it as much or more than the children. And the end is….well, I am not going to give it away, but it really really touched me. Definitely check this out and I will be reading more Neil Gaiman in the future. His books have won me over. And I thought he had me a “Fortunately, the Milk“!