12.15.2008

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book
8.9 of 10
Writer: Neil Gaiman






I'm not too familiar with Neil Gaiman's writings, unfortunately. I've only read The Sandman and Neverwhere. But his work with those books were enough to convince me that he is a very talented storyteller, and enough to persuade me to pick up another book written by him. But instead of getting his previous and more popular books, such as Coraline or American Gods, I opted for his most recent work, The Graveyard Book, to start fresh. I'm glad I did read it because I immensely enjoyed its fantastic story.

The tale in The Graveyard Book revolves around an orphaned boy named Nobody Owens, Bod for short. Bod's family was killed by an assassin, named Jack, when he was still a baby. He would've died too had he not climbed out from his crib, crawled out from his house and found his way into the nearby graveyard. Although Jack, with his keen sense of smell, had followed him there too. But gone was his chance to kill the boy. Because Bod had already been adopted by the ghosts of the graveyard and protected by other denizens of the night.

The book's story, and even it's title, may seem familiar. That's because Neil Gaiman owes the idea to Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book. Gaiman merely replaced the setting and some of the elements from Kipling's story, tailoring it into something new and to something that suits him. He used a graveyard in Europe, replacing the jungles of India, as the setting; ghosts as the family of the orphaned boy, as opposed to the wolves; and a vampire and werewolf as the boy's guardians, instead of the panther and the bear.

But The Graveyard Book isn't The Jungle Book with a graveyard setting. It's a wonderful tale in its own right (or else I would not have enjoyed it as much). Neil Gaiman did terrifically well here. He created a lot of quirky characters, each distinct from the other, making them memorable. The manner of how he told the story is also superb. Despite the themes of death and all the horrors associated with it, the book isn't spooky at all. In fact, it's filled with mystery and adventure, wonders and magic.

Once again, with aid of The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman has reminded me that fantasy can be found everywhere, from the underground tunnels in London to a tiny graveyard up on the hill. He is indeed one of the best writers in this time and age, and The Graveyard Book is another proof of that. While the idea behind the book isn't wholly original, the idea is still brilliant. Not many can pick up an old tale, tell it anew using their own words, and succeed. But Gaiman did just that, and that's the reason why you should read this book.

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3 comments:

gillboard said...

Looks interesting.. I'll hunt this one down... Try reading Anansi Boys... that's a very good story... Funny and exciting.

shurikenstuff said...

Bod's family was killed by an assassin, named Jack, when he was still a baby. He would've died too had he not climbed out from his crib, crawled out from his house and found his way into the nearby graveyard. Although Jack, with his keen sense of smell, had followed him there too. But gone was his chance to kill the boy.....DUDE, by just these words my assassin blood's already rushing, damn, where could I purchase this book? mind you, you're a bloody persuasive reviewer, sounds very interesting...to be honest, ive been sick with teenage wizards and dragon riders, this book might flush these ugly imprints...

Skron said...

@gillboard: Anasi Boys have been on my "must read list" for the last three years. Nowadays, I always tend to buy new releases than go back.

@shurikenstuff: I gave up reading on knights, wizards and dragons a long time ago. They seem to be too pedestrian for me. Anyways, I don't know where you'd get it dyan sa pinas. But I always buy books at Amazon.