Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The more I think about this book that more I'm convinced of how good it was. It gives me a warm feeling remembering all its characters, the strange atmosphere of familiarity and safety of the graveyard, its...cosiness. Although not a very long book, this story allowed me to find my comfortable place in the pages, making feel at home. I felt sad reading the last page, I wish it had gone on and on. But it's what readers have to go through all the time they finish a good book. Say goodbye to a world and its inhabitants, and maybe wish to meet them again in a sequel. Since I don't believe there will be one, I will have to wait till the story has faded a bit more in my memory, to read it again and feel as if it were new.

So, why was is so good? Since I'm basically the last to review this book, it shouldn't be a mystery. The story of Bod, who is adopted by the ghosts of an old graveyard when he is only a baby, is well known by now. I normally wouldn't think I'd like books made out of different episodes, like short stories. But Neil Gaiman did a great job. We follow Bod as a baby, then a boy, and then as a lonely teenager. Although he is different from all the people he knows (he's alive!) he is given the freedom of the graveyard. So he learns how to fade, how to go through walls, even how to haunt, when necessary.
The only friend he makes is a girl named Scarlett, who comes to play with him in the graveyard,when they're both very young. But when she leaves town, he is only a fading memory for her, a sort of imaginary friend who only belongs to childhood.
Bod has a guardian. A mysterious figure named Silas, who protects him and advises him. He has all the features of a vampire, although I hadn't noticed them and was still wondering who he was, when a friend pointed it out to me! Silas is the nearest thing to a fatherly figure that Bod has. It's only natural that when Bod decides he wants to go to school, Silas is against it and Bod defies him. It's the first time Bod confronts his guardian so openly and refuses to do what he's told. So reluctantly Silas acknowledges that it's time to let him make his own choices and faces the consequences.
But Silas is right. The outside world is full of dangers. Someone is after him. Someone who wants to finish the job he had started many years ago. Eventually Bod will have to face him and use all his resources to defeat him.
Aside from the main storyline of the man Jack, which was suspenseful and exciting, what I loved most were the characters. Miss Lupescu, Liza the witch, Silas, the Owens, and of course Bod. Kind, honest, impulsive Bod. If I will reread this book, it will be for them.

Now, I had said I've been to Neil Gaiman's signing so let me tell you something about it. It was VERY exciting! He read the first chapter from The Graveyard Book because the majority of the people in the audience hadn't read it yet. I wish he had read the whole book to us. He knew when to pause and where to put the emphasis on and just how to read it properly. I think he's one of the best readers I've listened to and he should have a career in audiobooks :P But that wouldn't probably leave him much time to write and to do signings so maybe not!
After that he answered questions from the public. I wish I could have formed a thought properly, and asked a question, because people asked questions non related to the book,while I would have been more interested in the process of writing it. Did he have a fully formed story when he started writing it? Where all the characters already there? What's the meaning of the danse macabre? and the Lady on the horse? None of these things were discussed and I regret it. Next time I'm going to a signing of a book I've read, I'm going to start thinking about the questions BEFORE!
Anyway, he mentioned his next book, which will be a poem he wrote for Tori Amos' baby called "Blueberry Girl", which will be illustrated by Charles Vess. Take a look here, it looks like it's going to be gorgeous.
He then said that his next actual book will be a non-fiction, travel book, called "Monkey and Me". I love travel books, so I'm looking forward to it.
He said many other things, for example that he doesn't like working on sequels, because new projects are always more exciting. But even though sometimes I didn't know what he was talking about, I just enjoyed listening to him talking. He's funny and fascinating, and now I want to go and read all this books.
I got Coraline and The Graveyard signed, but again I couldn't think of anything good to say so I kept my mouth shut. I leave you with this little video I took of him reading. Enjoy.
(Sorry it's a bit shaky)

other blog reviews:
Orpheus Sings the Guitar Electric
The Written World
Jenny’s Books
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Stainless Steel Droppings
Books & Other Thoughts
The Bluestocking Society
dreaming out loud
Melody's Reading Corner
Booknotes by Lisa
A High and Hidden Place
Bart's Bookshelf
You Can Never Have Too Many Books

Nothing of Importance
Fizzy Thoughts
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
Becky's Book Reviews
Hello, My Name is Alice
Sophisticated Dorkiness
Fyrefly's Book Blog
Andy Wolverton
Real Book
Em's Bookshelf


Ana S. said...

He really is one of the best readers ever! And I'm very excited about both Blueberry Girl and Monkey and Me (though we probably will have to wait a while for that one). Thanks for the video, and thanks for telling us about the signing :)

Em said...

I loved, loved, loved this book. He's such a talented storyteller. and I'm hoping they make it into a movie. I've very excited for Coraline.

Kim L said...

I went to see Neil when he was in MN, and you are right, it was awesome to hear him read from that book! If you go to his blog, you can actually listen to the whole book now (I haven't yet, but I keep thinking I should). Glad you liked this one, I really liked it too!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

How cool that you got this and Coraline signed? I had actually meant to look for this one at the store today but saw the Harry Potter display and forgot about everything else. Glad you liked this one--I've been hearing such great things about it!

Kailana said...

Authors like this never come near me so I guess I have to live through everyone else! I really liked this book, though. Gaiman is sort of hit or miss with me, although I have never hated anything by him

Ali said...

This is still on our TBR pile (mine and my sons') so you're not the very last to read it. Great video!

mariel said...

Never fear, this is still sitting unread on my shelf, so I'll be the last. I've read so many good reviews, I'm a little worried it won't live up to the hype!

Na, I'm not really, shall make it the next on my list!

valentina said...

I've excited too Ana! can't wait:) maybe more for Monkey and Me though. and you're welcome!

Em,a movie would be awesome!

Kim, I know, and if I had time I'd like to just listen to him reading the whole book to me as well:)

Trish, read Beedle the bard in half and hour and then go and buy this book!

Kailana, I don't think i could hate anything by him!

Ali, thanks, and I hope you read it soon.

Mariel, I'm sure it will, because it's just so good! Actually, I haven't read any negative reviews yet, so I'd be very surprise:)

Melody said...

I love this book! Thanks for linking me, Valentina. :)

Unknown said...

I want it!!!!The book and also the signature!!!
You are a lucky girl! ;)
In italy, we have only the prequel...:(

valentina said...

melody, no problem, and I'm glad you loved it!everybody should!|

gian, you should get it on amazon or something,it's gonna be ages before it's translated!it's not hard to read at all.

darkorpheus said...

Oh, Gaiman was in our bookstore a few years back for a signing. He is a genuinely nice guy. His marker ran out of ink and I had to get him new ones to sign with - and in the middle of the VERY LONG queue, he took the effort to turn to me, look me in the eyes, just to thank me.

Most people would be too busy. He makes a effort to be polite, to acknowledge people. I believe thats the real reason he's such a good writer: He notices people and things.

Anonymous said...

I admit I didn't really read this post, as I think I'm getting it for Christmas and I've avoided really finding out any details about it - beyond that Gaiman wrote it, of course. I hope it is one of the books under my tree next week!

Unknown said...

I love this book too. I think it has potential for a movie... what do you think?