Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I sat down on the swing outside this afternoon to read the last 157 pages of The Graveyard Book and for the first time this Fall a cool breeze blew past and the leaves fell from the trees like snow. A couple of hours later, my eyes were watering not from seasonal allergies but because The Graveyard Book had ended. It was a journey that I won't soon forget and that I won't go long without reading again, I'm sure. As anyone who frequents here knows, I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman's work. That may be an understatement, just maybe. I wait in anticipation of any new project on the horizon. In fact, I'm already awaiting the release of his travel book which I don't even know if he's started writing yet. There's always a little trepidation going into novels by authors that you love. Will it be as good as what you have built up in your head? In the case of The Graveyard Book, it surpassed my expectations which is rare indeed and you always know you hold something special in your hands when that happens. The Graveyard Book is a story for all ages. It's about the innocence of childhood, the wonders and thrills and mysteriousness of childhood, the pains of growing older and the joys of growing older, those subtle experiences that Neil Gaiman always captures so well. It's also about murder and magic and darkness and light. And it's all balanced perfectly in a story that is at times terrifying and at times completely heartwarming and melancholy. The story itself revolves around a boy named Nobody Owens, Bod for short that is taken in by the ghosts of a graveyard after he escapes being murdered. There he has a guardian named Silas and a family that takes him as their own. We follow Bod as he grows older and experience his childhood with him and his transition forward. Though his life is filled with that which we may never experience, it is still a life that speaks to every reader. In true Gaiman form, the essence of a boy is captured perfectly and the reader is whisked away to days that are sometimes forgotten. Dave McKean's illustrations are some of my favorite to date by him. Not that they are the best work I have ever seen him produce (though they are amazing and I don't mean to take away from how incredible they are), but they brought to life characters that I know I will love and cherish for a long time. I only wish there were more, which there are I believe in the Subterranean Press edition which I sadly did not purchase. I believe that Neil Gaiman gives us a little piece of himself with each book that he writes. His passion is obvious in each and every word that he writes, in the structure of his sentences, and in the amazing characters that I sometimes tend to forget are fictional. Are they still fictional when they've been made so real and have made such strong impressions on people? Perhaps that's a theme of this book in a way. My hats off to Mr. Gaiman for another wonderful book that will hold a proud place on my shelves. To anyone interested in reading this one, don't forget that this is listed in my BAFAB week giveaway which ends on October 7th. You can pick any one of my top 13 books published in 2008 including this one if you're the winner. And you also get a Domo!

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