Welcome to the graveyard, also known as home sweet home. This statement doesn’t seem strange if you happen to be Nobody Owens, the live boy who dwells in a catacomb after his parents’ murder and Nobody’s subsequent adoption by a sweet pair of happily wedded ghosts. Because mom and dad can’t leave the confines of the graveyard, Nobody’s caretaking is given over to a mysterious being belonging neither to the living nor to the dead, known only as Silas. As it turns out, graveyards can be quite the place to grow up.
Or at least, so suggests Neil Gaiman with his novel The Graveyard Book. The acclaimed fantasy writer of such bestselling works as American Gods and Anansi Boys, Gaiman completely reinvents Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book into a young boy’s journey of eerie and oftentimes amusing discovery that has a magical ambience reminiscent of A Nightmare Before Christmas.
Although marketed as a children’s book, the story of Nobody Owens interweaves such weighty musings on prejudice, sacrifice, life, and death with adventure and mystery, all set over the backdrop of the highly original, fantastical creation of a graveyard as a vibrant village. Its enjoyable to read as an adult because it transports you not only into a unique community of ghosts and ghouls, but to the time when your imagination used to run wild, when the world had no limits because anything and everything seemed possible, even probable. It returns you, in other words, to your youth.
That’s not to say that The Graveyard Book is the best thing you’ll ever read. While there is an overarching mystery that drives the story from begining to end (namely, who killed Nobody’s human family, and why), for the first half of the novel, this plotline is pushed to the sidelines, as Nobody instead explores the only world he has ever known: his graveyard. The first few chapters read like self-contained stories, engaging on their own, but concluded nonetheless, meaning you don’t have to pick the book immediately back up in order to find out how Nobody will survive. The story picks up speed, though, as Nobody grows older and becomes more aware of the circumstances surrounding his strange upbringing.
If you like fantasy or coming of age stories, or are looking for a quick read that will leave you thinking, The Graveyard Book is certainly worth checking out.
According the internet chatter there’s a movie in development, but no release date has been set as of yet.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, HarperCollins, 2008, 336 pages, $7.99
Available here: http://www.amazon.com/Graveyard-Book-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0060530944/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329503163&sr=8-1
Note for my readers: If you liked the article, please support me by subscribing to my column or sharing it with your friends and family. Also, feel free to comment below.