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The Graveyard Book

A fantasy novel for young adults written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean.

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Dark, spooky and edgy. Totally engaging and fun.

  • Nov 29, 2010
Once again, with imaginative and narrative skill, Neil Gaiman has created a children's book unlike any other. At once gothic and phantasmagoric, it is still, at heart, a children's story with perhaps a literary nod to C.S. Lewis and H.P. Lovecraft.

At the beginning of the story a murder happens which leaves the lone survivor-a male toddler-moving out into the open towards a cemetery which is inhabited by a band of spirits from all generations. Once in the graveyard, the spirit of the boy's murdered mother makes an appearance, asking the earthbound entities to act as caregivers for her surviving child, for her soul is not to be married to the earth. As the ghosts discuss amongst themselves what to do, they make an agreement to keep a watchful eye upon him. Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a childless spirit couple agree to act as the new mom and dad while Silas, an enigmatic and wizened figure of angelic powers agrees to act as guardian, an entity of a sort who is the only one who can leave the graveyard and navigate around the vastness of the globe, bringing the orphaned child the necessities that he will require in order to grow and develop and mature into adulthood.

Given the name of Nobody Owens, the boy gradually adapts himself to the wonderfully macabish environment and its loving but ghostly influences; as a group, they nurture him the best way they know how, feeding him and imparting wisdom and knowledge from long days past. They also bestow upon him supernatural abilities that allow him to function normally in an environment meant only for the dead; he can see in the pitch black of the night. He can vanish and or fade, and his senses are heightened to a level that makes him more attuned to the dead than the living. Yet, as he grows, the defiance of teenage-hood sets in, compounded by his brief yet pleasant encounters with the living; they are the light and are evocative of action, ideology, living, something that the dead can not offer. They have had their turn in life, whether it was long or short, but it too was temporarily theirs.

Wanting desperately to assimilate into the world of the living, Nobody Owens is always held back, despite the fact that his youthful rambunctiousness does occasionally get the better of him. But their is still danger out in the living world, for the ones who killed his living family are still out to get him. And the guardian Silas knows very well who they are-the man Jack and his minions-though he is mum about it towards Nobody Owens, who is not ready to hear the truth. The backdrop of the story is actually outside the graveyard; the peace and protection is only within. While in the cemetery, Nobody or Bod, as he like to be called, embarks on a series of adventures and misadventures that take place in the lower depths of the yard; his mind is opened to figureheads and ghouls who are are still embittered with a pinch of darkness in their beings, for what they could not correct in themselves in life they carried with themselves to death. And it is a merry-go-round of splendidly told tales and experiences, merging the living with the dead.

The crux of the work is that in decent and healthy communities it is always good and noble to help where it is asked for and when necessary. A community and or village, even in the ghastly sense, can offer something of inestimable value whose rewards may not be immediately seen but only in the long run. That works too for the negative ramifications. It is also about growing up and leaving the nest, moving away from those who raised you and loved you. But that is how life operates, for when the kids turn into adults, they may be gone, but their not really gone. The connection of unity and love is fully solidified, despite distances. And that love can transcend even beyond death, as is illustrated in The Graveyard Book. Energy. Memories. Souls. They are always comfortingly with us. Most deserving of the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Unique. Period.

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More The Graveyard Book reviews
review by . July 13, 2010
Perfectly-paced storytelling from Neil Gaiman and stark illustrations from Dave McKean combine to make this a fantastic, enjoyable quick read. I have always found that McKean's art evokes imagery from Gaiman's tales incredibly well, with their sharp, almost woodcut-seeming black lines, and this is certainly the case in The Graveyard Book, as in Coraline.      Though the story opens with serious action, it takes a bit of reading before one becomes truly absorbed by the …
Quick Tip by . March 24, 2011
I've always been fond of slightly dark fantasy adventures about children, whether written by Lewis Carroll, Edward Gorey, Roald Dahl, or J.K. Rowling. Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is certainly of that same vein and is worthy to sit upon the bookshelf among those authors mentioned above. The novel is a Gothic coming of age story, modeled on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, and tells the story of a young boy, Nobody Owens, whose family was murdered when he was a baby and as a result …
review by . November 28, 2010
Entertaining and enjoyable
First I want to say how wonderful it was to listen to Neil Gaiman narrate this audio. I love his wry humor and wit, and this book doesn't disappoint.   The Graveyard Book was like a darker combination of Harry Potter and the Jungle Book. A coming of age story where a small boy Nobody Owens finds himself orphaned and being raised by a graveyard full of ghosts and 1 possible vampire (this is never really made clear) while being hunted by an assassin with a keen sense of smell. I was …
review by . July 02, 2010
The concept of this story is refreshingly unique considering the current trend of writing about monsters and death.  The life of the protagonist as he grows up in the graveyard, makes for an interesting story, but the other characters are what make this book a must read.  The book also takes the reader into other worlds as we travel along learning life lessons with Nobody Owens.  This book is not just for kids, its a great read for all ages.
review by . August 30, 2010
Pros: Interesting idea.     Cons: Weak storyline.     The Bottom Line: If this were a meal, it would be missing a lot of meat and potatoes.     Sometimes I wonder if I must be missing something when it comes to some of the books I read.  I enjoyed Hyperion while everyone around me went nuts trying to read it.  American Gods grated endlessly on my nerves while others raved about it.  I guess in the end it just depends upon …
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Changed the food industry!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
This is a an engaging, interesting story. I was always together with Bod. The ending in a way disappointed me, but it also made me feel food since it was unexpected and that's what you expect from great writers.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
I was a little disappointed by the end, but the overall story was good, and the writing kept me going without any problem.
Quick Tip by . May 19, 2010
This is a kids' book? Yep - and good stuff, too!
review by . October 06, 2009
The adventures of Nobody "Bod" Owens while having the run of the graveyard... this was such a simplistic and enjoyable read. It felt like a very long short story - only because it was written in a way that each chapter was a story of it's own--even though it dealt with the same characters. There was a thread that ran through them all, but it was mostly in the background. Yet the end tied it all in and left me very satisfied with the outcome. I loved that we watched Bod being raised, nurtured and …
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Christian Engler ()
Not much to say; my info section and likes pretty much says it all. Cheers.
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About this book


The Graveyard Book is a young adult fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. The story is about a boy named Nobody Owens, whose family is killed by a mysterious man named Jack, and who is subsequently adopted and raised by the occupants of an old graveyard. Gaiman's first full-length children's novel since the bestselling and widely acclaimed Coraline, The Graveyard Book won the 2009 Newbery Award.
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ISBN-10: 0060530928
ISBN-13: 978-0060530921
Author: Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens
Date Published: October 01, 2008
Format: Novel
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