Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Graveyard Book Review

"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."

Neil Gaiman weaves the most hauntingly beautiful tale of growing up in his children's book, The Graveyard Book. Gaiman's words are sewn together with Dave McKean's artwork to create the stunning quilt of horror that you just want to wrap yourself in.

Immediately after finishing this, I did more research into the analysis of this story than any book I was ever assigned to read for school. There was so much I wanted to know about the ideas and theories I had floating around in my mind. Sure enough, I had some solidity to my own interpretation of the themes and symbolism. But there were also so many more concepts that I had yet to even construct. So I owe some credit to this site for answering a lot of my questions and putting more ideas in my head.

The Graveyard Book is written in 8 chapters, each chapter reads as a linear part of the book but in itself was a mini story. The graveyard itself was given the role of a library for Bod. He delved into his own adventures within each gravestone which personifies each character and each type of story. Books play a huge role in this as well, the name of the book is attributed to Roydhard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe makes an appearance to lend to the fact that Bod is almost marooned in the graveyard and is coming to realize it.

The graveyard is not the only thing that holds a massive amount of symbolism in this book. Color plays a large part throughout the course of this book. Most colors used are shades of grey. The lady in gray, her gray horse, Bod's sheet clothing, the gravestones. All very somber and contribute to the melancholy feel that is a graveyard. Black and white contribute to the grey scale of life and death. The darkness that Bod can see through represents death and the white flowers represent life. Red appears during the more lifelike portions. Scarlett, a human girl who is Bod's first friend, is representing it in her name. Bloodlust is a big part of this book as well, blood is red which is a human's life. Scarlett is present when Bod discovers the Indigo Man, another color that is too vibrant for Bod to take at that part of the story.

The characters hold a lot of weight in this book as well. Bod is the typical protagonist of a children's book, yearns to learn as much as he can, is a hero without noticing it, grows up throughout. Silas is the silent protector, who we learn through subtle hints is kind of a vampire. All the ghosts are like family to Bod and offer humor through the sayings on their headstones. The Jack of All Trades create such a creepy and disturbing atmosphere by just existing.

Gaiman's writing is so complex and yet so simple at the same time. This book makes books written for teens and adults seem petty and frivolous. His syntax makes it so that every sentence can become a stand alone quote. The third person narration makes setting switches seamless and easy to interpret. Overall, flawless.

Overall this is the cutest, sweetest story that is surrounded with murder and death. Never did I think a children's book would capture me so much. The Graveyard Book left me hopeful and acquisitive. 5 out of 5 stars, top shelf, this should be shelved next to your classics.

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