Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens, a boy whose family is murdered one night and who is subsequently raised in a graveyard. In typical Gaiman fashion, even though this story is completely implausible, you completely believe that a boy can be raised by ghosts in a graveyard.
I was really pleased to read this book. Gaiman deftly creates something so much more than a ghost story; it is a story about growing up, becoming the person you are meant to be and accepting your place in the world and ultimately having no regrets about the decisions that you make on that journey. At least that's what I got out of it. The story opens with 3 murders; the man Jack is out to kill a family. However, even though he may be the best for this job, the toddler escapes. The man Jack follows him to a graveyard, but the child's family is one step ahead, their ghosts pleading to the inhabitants of the graveyard to protect the child. A ghost, Mrs. Owens, agrees to take in the child, who is given Freedom of the Graveyard, the ability to live there, almost spectral like, and also giving him total protection from the man Jack. Not knowing what he is called, his new extended family names him Nobody Owens, or Bod for short.
Bod has several adventures during his younger days, and the denizens of the graveyard do their best to provide for him, but eventually, as with any young person, Bod begins to questions his place in the only world he has known, the graveyard. He begins to venture out into the real world, bringing unwanted attention to himself, especially from the man Jack. The book finds Bod coming into his own as he confronts the man Jack and overcomes the obstacles set before him.
There are lots of clever moments and turns of phrase in the book (like the man Jack, and the organization he works for) and the story really flows nicely. The accompanying illustrations by Dave McKean work surprisingly well with the story, adding just that much more texture to the reading experience.
This was a real treat of a book, and I was almost sad when I finished the story; it was a world that I would have been happy to have visited for awhile more.