The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
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.
I feel like Neil Gaiman is one of those authors that everyone is familiar with, even if they haven't read any of his books. Neil Gaiman is like a rockstar: everyone knows his name, and loves him just because he's awesome. But I never picked up his books until pretty recently.
I started with Coraline earlier this year, and loved it. Then, when my Creative Writing teacher (aka the biggest Neil Gaiman fan ever to exist ever) found out that I'd never read The Graveyard Book, she shoved a copy into my hands and was like " YOU MUST READ THIS NOW!" So I started reading.
I should add that I read the majority of this book by listening to the audiobook version, which is a totally different experience than just reading it. But more on that later.
For the first half of this novel, I was in a state of...confusion. I was enjoying the storytelling, and the idea of a child being raised in a graveyard was certainly intriguing, but it was like each chapter was even more random and out-of-place than the previous one. I was having a hard time connecting the chapters together and finding any kind of consistent plot. I was still enjoying it, and I knew I would definitely continue reading, but I couldn't help wondering why everyone in the world thought so highly of this book.
And then, once I got a little past the halfway point, I got it. Something just clicked for me, and I thought to myself, "wow, this is brilliant" At that point, I realized how beautiful and unique and meaningful the story was, and I fell in love with this book.
The format of the book is unusual. A lot of the book reads like a collection of short stories about the same characters and setting, but without a real connection between them. But then, later on in the book, there is a connection, and the story flows smoothly from one chapter to the next. I'd never read a book told like this before, so I definitely had a hard time adjusting to the format at first, but by the end of the book, I was able to appreciate the unique format of the story.
The audiobook I listened to is narrated by Neil Gaiman, which made me love the book approximately a million times more. Neil Gaiman has the perfect voice for narrating books, and I could probably listen to him ramble on and on about nothing for hours without getting bored. Since he's the author as well as the narrator, the narration feels a lot smoother than it would if a random actor had narrated it. He knows exactly where to pause or emphasize or stress certain words or sentences or paragraphs, because he wrote them in a specific way. My experience listening to the audiobook was absolutely delightful, and I cannot begin to tell you how much I recommend this audiobook.
As for the book itself, I know I haven't given you much to go on here in this ramble. But the thing about The Graveyard Book is that I don't really have any idea how to describe it or convince you to pick it up. The story just...is. It's there, and it's beautiful and strange and creepy and dark and unique and powerful. I can't guarantee that you'll like this book if you read it, of course, but I encourage you to give it a chance, at least. I had an interesting experience reading this book, and it took me a long time to really appreciate it, but now I can't begin to explain to you how brilliant I think it is.
Now that I've read The Graveyard Book and Coraline, I'm definitely ready for some more Neil Gaiman books. If you have any recommendations for me, please leave them in the comments below. I have a feeling that Neil Gaiman is going to become one of my new favorite authors.