Monday, September 30, 2013

The Graveyard Book

About half the time that I start a Neil Gaiman book it starts, for me, very slowly. I begin bright eyed and excited to read and then I find I'm dragging along, not making much progress, but I don't want to put the book down. I often will wonder, am I just sticking with this because I adore Neil Gaiman as a writer and person? But usually my answer is, "Well I like this book. I'm enjoying this book and no, I don't want to put it down." Then why does it start so slow for me?

The Graveyard Book was one such book. It started very slow but I had no intention of putting the book down. I found it confusing at first, as many of the characters live in a graveyard and some can do things others cannot and yet it's not very descriptive of what these characters are. But then I got past that and I returned to enjoying the book for simply what it was: magical. Inquisitive. Sometimes a little scary and all together captivating.

After the first few chapters I was hooked and that sluggish reading speed I had was surpassed by my need to read the book as quickly as I could. I wanted to know what happened and I enjoyed reading about the characters. More, more, more, give me more, and I got more with every "flip" of the page (I read it on my Kindle...).

Nobody Owens (Bod for short) is a child that has grown up in a cemetery. After his family was killed, he was taken in by two ghosts (the Owens', respectively) and accepted by a community of ghosts. Plus Silas, his guardian, who is neither alive nor dead (I suspect he's a vampire). The story knits together different short stories about Bod as he is growing up and the type of ghosts he meets within the graveyard. We see him age and understand more with each year and gradually witness the slight rebelliousness of any child. He wants to see the world, wants to get out of the graveyard, and yet he is forbidden of doing so. 

Remember, his family had been killed and certainly not on accident. The killer is still out there... possibly looking for Bod. It's within the graveyard that Bod is protected and in that graveyard that he is accepted. He isn't quite human, not really, because he can do things that most humans can't but in the end he is still a living breathing boy who is aging and changing. 

I was left wishing for more details such as where his bed was exactly, how did he shower, did he ever get sick, how did he stay warm in the winter and could you please make it a little clearer who the Jacks are and why they are going after Bod? But otherwise, I was swept away. Each chapter was a different tale of Bod's, a different adventure, and I grew to love his odd little life and the ghosts which made up his family. Silas found a special place in my heart. Maybe it's because he may have been a vampire (and I generally love my vampires) but I really think it was because of his nature. Cold and untouchable in ways, Silas was very much the guardian who cared for Bod and made sure he was safe. He was the delivery man for food and seemed always patient with Bod.

We witness Bod grow older and his past come back to haunt him. I cheered him on, hoped he would "win", and was sad to see him go. In the end, I found myself craving more details from the book, more information, but I enjoyed it and I thought of it often. Weeks after I had finished the book I still thought of it fondly, even in conversation when a friend was looking to live in a house next to a graveyard, and never were my thoughts of it ones of dislike or disappointment. That's the sign of a good book, at least to me it is. 

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