Well, if every book I read this year is as good as the first one, I’ll have no problem reaching my goal of reading 52 books during the year.
I started off my year with the children’s title The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Considering Gaiman’s previous writing and the book’s title, I was expecting a chilling tale. The book does start out with a murderer hot on the trail of a toddler after he has just killed the toddler’s parents and older sister.
What I didn’t expect from the book was how much heart it had. The toddler narrowly escapes the murderer, known simply as Jack, by venturing into a nearby graveyard. There the Owens couple, residents of the graveyard for several hundred years, save the boy and vow to raise him as their own. Mysterious Silas, who is one of the only souls able to come and go from the graveyard as he pleases, agrees to serve as the boy’s guardian, providing him with food and other material needs over the years. Over the years the boy, who is named Nobody, or Bod for short, is raised by this extended family of dead souls in the graveyard, and they each love him and guide him in their own special way.
The book is also full of suspense and adventure. When Bod flees into the graveyard, Jack does not stop searching for him. Bod’s life is perpetually in danger, and he must stay in the graveyard for safety. Of course, being a curious boy, he does venture away from time to time, inevitably leading to one misadventure or another. He also manages to find trouble within the gates of the graveyard, keeping Silas busy watching over him. The book culminates in an exciting chase with Bod’s life on the line.
Throughout the book interesting questions are raised. What is a family? What is friendship? How does one live life to the fullest? The Graveyard Book is really wonderful on so many levels.
I would highly recommend this book to children about nine years old and up, particularly mystery and fantasy fans.