Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Originally Published: 2008
Format I Read: Audio Book
I first read this book immediately upon its release in 2008. I had followed Neil Gaiman’s blog posts about the road to its publication, and I was very intrigued by the idea of a spin on The Jungle Book. But when I first read the stories, I was not enthralled. I liked it but felt it was almost too simplistic. I said that it “felt more like interrelated vignettes than a cohesive story.”
Notwithstanding that first reaction, I’ve always wanted to reread it, especially since it went on to win the Newbery Medal. And I’d heard that the audio, read by Neil himself, was amazing. So, when Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings announced he was hosting a readalong as part of R.I.P. VII, I decided to join in.
The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody Owens, known as “Bod” for short. As a toddler, he wanders into a graveyard, unknowingly escaping the murderer who had just killed the rest of the family. Bod is taken in by the inhabitants of the graveyard and raised by them. He lives under the protection of the graveyard and comes of age there, with Silas, a mysterious member of the Honour Guard, as his guardian. (Check out this post for some interesting analysis of Silas’s character.)
First, let me say that Neil Gaiman is an amazingly skilled audio book narrator. I was completely engaged by his storytelling. I loved the inside view the author as narrator gave me. The way he pronounced words and paused during certain beats in sentences.
And I found myself more engaged with the story itself. I think this stems both from the excellent audio recording and from the experience of rereading this book. This time around, I loved the vignette feel. I loved Bod. I loved the subtle changes in him, the growing up that inevitably occurs. I loved the inhabitants of the graveyard, especially Liza Hempstock. And I most of all loved Silas. This time around I found more depth. I felt more involved. I saw the layers I missed the first time around.
The Graveyard Book is a fascinating and successful literary experiment. And the audio book only heightens the experience.
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (Audio) [rating:4]