If you followed my Instagram story earlier today, you know that I waited till the last possible moment to finish this book. And if you are reading this shortly after its publication, you know that I waited till the last possible moment to write this review. But it’s not the book’s fault. It was all me. October has been stupid busy. But it’s been really, really fun.
The Graveyard Book was… incredible. I think a lot of what made it so good was that this book was so far outside of my comfort zone. I almost never read children’s or YA literature. I definitely never read fantasy or… what would this be called? Horror? Would it? Maybe technically it would be considered horror but it’s not horrifying at all. It’s a book of adventures and excitement! Ah, that’s it. A thriller. Last night as my husband was watching the World Series and I was reading this book there was a surprise about halfway through the next to the last chapter. I sat up straight in my chair and yelled, “WHAAAAAT?!?!?!” Ryan was begging me to tell him what was going on but I was much too riveted.
So in a nutshell, here’s what the book is about: Early on, a family is murdered in their sleep. I know—that’s pretty dark. I said that it’s not horrifying but the first page does open with a triple murder. That was really jarring for me but I was also grateful for it because it dropped me right into the atmosphere of the story really quickly and effectively. The survivor of this attack, a toddling baby, finds his way into a cemetery where he is raised by the inhabitants, there. They decide to name him Nobody Owens: Bod for short.
At first, it seems like the chapters that follow could be simple, stand alone short stories of adventure, misstep and rescue. Later on, however, you see that each story builds a character trait or produces a skill needed for the climax of the story.
This was the first time that I’ve ever read anything by Neil Gaiman and I really love his story telling style. He has a way of incorporating nuance and humor seamlessly without lollygagging the story. I read the whole book and could see it playing out in my mind’s eye like a Tim Burton-style claymation movie. Maybe because I’d seen Coraline (not a Tim Burton movie but similar styles)—also a Neil Gaiman story. I would love to see this made into a movie. I would love-love-love it.
There’s one theme in this story that has been haunting me (peh heh heh) throughout the whole book and that is the idea of fear as a weapon. One of the first times that we see this concept employed, Bod and a friend find their way into the oldest grave in the whole cemetery—where a treasure is buried. There is a sentry stationed there to guard the treasure until his master returns. This gatekeeper’s primary line of defense is fear. It doesn’t do anything scary—especially since no one can even see this creature, it just creates a spirit of fear that would drive someone away. Bod points out to his friend that fear can’t hurt anyone—but sometimes it can make us hurt ourselves. After that, the guard of this tomb is seen more as a scarecrow than anything else. The concept of fear is completely debunked more or less. Fear is a weapon, sure, but it can easily be overpowered. Later on in this story–this lesson becomes crucial to survival.
As a person who deals with anxiety and fear a lot in her life—this concept resonated with and empowered me so greatly that I would like to write Neil Gaiman a deeply sincere thank you card.
Now, onto our November pick!
As is our way, we’re going in a COMPLETELY different direction! For the month of November, we’re reading Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham. Yeah, the Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls and Parenthood fame! Also, at the date of this publication, this book is only $1.99 on Kindle.
You have until November 30th to read and review this book along with us! Link us to your blog or Goodreads review and we’ll publish it.