The Graveyard Book – Book Review

graveyard-bookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

One night, a baby boy climbs out of his crib, down the stairs, and through the front door that has been left open, right into an old graveyard.  Good thing, too, because an evil man named Jack had just finished killing his parents and older sister and was on his way to kill the baby as well.  The man Jack follows the boy to the graveyard but, once there, the child is adopted by a ghost couple and the murderer is escorted out of the graveyard and away from the boy by a mysterious figure named Silas.

Named Nobody Owens, Bod for short, by the denizens of the graveyard, the boy spends his childhood playing among tombstones with ghosts as companions, warned never to leave the graveyard, as the man Jack is still out to kill him.

Man, this book is kind of scary for kids!  Of course, as Neil himself has said, there has always been a dark side to children’s stories (think original fairy tales).  The first half of the story was entertaining, but seemed to me to be sort of meandering, largely unconnected stories about Bod’s life growing up in the graveyard.  Sure, there were some exciting adventures he had, but I didn’t see how they could be cohesive.

I shouldn’t have doubted Neil Gaiman.  All of the pieces that seemed disparate came together at the climax of the story.  This turned out to be a very enjoyable story, and listening to the audiobook with Gaiman narrating was great.  I definitely wouldn’t give this to young kids to listen to, though.

Check out Neil on the Colbert Report talking about “The Graveyard Book”:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Neil Gaiman
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Mark Sanford

Buy this book on Amazon.
Buy this audiobook on Amazon.

16 comments to The Graveyard Book – Book Review

  • Linda

    I just started this last week. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but I’m interested to see where the story is going. I think it may be a little too intense for my 3rd grade students, however. I’m glad to hear you liked it. I’ll be anxious to start reading it again after all my conferences are over this week.

  • I read this earlier this year. It’s a great book. One that I think I’ll be rereading soon.

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  • Ti

    My 10 year-old son is reading this now. He is liking it but do you think it’s too scary for a ten-year-old? I won’t take it form him if it is but it might be a lesson to me to check a bit more before handing a book over to him.

    Ti’s last blog post..Review: Drood

  • I read it recently on my Kindle and really enjoyed the book. I don’t have kids, so this is in no way an expert opinion, but I wouldn’t think it would too much for a 10-year-old. It’s meant for middle-grade readers, I believe, and it wasn’t any more violent than the early Harry Potter books, and considerably less than the later HP books. I don’t think I’d recommend it for very young kids though.

    Linda / Lyndi’s last blog post..My Town Monday: The Fighting 47th

    • Ali

      The meandering, non-cohesive nature of the first half of the book really bugged my kids. And for them, it all tying together in the end wasn’t enough to redeem it.

      Ti, my kids (8 and 12) weren’t frightened by this, but they were a little taken aback by how dark it was. I was, too! It’s not any scarier than Harry Potter, in my opinion.

      Ali’s last blog post..The High Road Award–Philip Lee

  • Ti and Linda/Lyndi –
    I agree with Linda/Lyndi completely. A 10-year old that is somewhat immature or easily frightened may not enjoy this book, but I think that most 10 year olds would be fine with it. I would say a normal to mature 3rd grader would be fine with it (and anyone older of course). I can understand not wanting to read it to an entire class of third graders (like the first Linda has) because of varying maturity, but I think most would be fine with it. If the entire book was as intense as the first few pages it would probably be a no-go, but Gaiman varies the intensity nicely.

  • I loved the Gaiman Colbert interview, it was hilarious! This is a great review and really makes me want to read the book.

    S. Krishna’s last blog post..This Year’s Model – Carol Alt

  • Kathy

    I recently read Coraline and loved it. I can’t believe it was my first Neil Gaiman book. I definitely want to read more and have this one on my wish list.

  • First of all, love the new look!

    I read this book to my kids in installments, and even though they found it a little scarey, they loved it. They were begging for me to read to them almost daily. This is quite a feat for a 9 year old and 11 year old, that usually would rather be watching TV or playing video games!

    Sandy’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

  • This looks really awesome. I think I might have to finally break down and read a Neil Gaiman book!

    Sadako’s last blog post..Award

  • I just adored this book! I actually want to read it again!

    Ladytink_534’s last blog post..Gaiman Poem

  • I couldn’t believe how scary the opening of the book was! This was my first Gaiman book and I must admit that I’m not rushing out to read his others.

    Natasha @ Maw Books’s last blog post..Blogging & Reading Review for March

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