The Graveyard Book (audio)

The Graveyard Book (audio)

I have a weird relationship with Neil Gaiman's books.  His stories always fascinate me conceptually, but upon reading them, I'm inevitably underwhelmed.  That isn't to say his books are bad, just not as great as I hope they will be upon reading a plot summary.

The Graveyard Book suffers this same small letdown.  The idea - a young boy, orphaned after the brutal murder of his family, is raised by the ghosts that inhabit a nearby graveyard - is pretty awesome.  The execution, while still very entertaining and enjoyable, is just enough less awesome to be disappointing.  Maybe I expect too much from Gaiman, but if that's the case it's his own fault for having such awesome ideas.

The best part about The Graveyard Book is how it celebrates life through the constant presence of death.  This theme emerges so naturally from the content of the book that it doesn't ever feel cliche or preachy.  Gaiman also ties everything together nicely in the end.  Unfortunately, there are too many parts that drag along the way to make it excellent from beginning to end.

On the whole this a good book and, if you choose to go with the audio version, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by Gaiman's skill as a narrator.  In spite of my own weird disappointment, I don't have a problem recommending this.  It's not Gaiman's best (Neverwhere, Stardust), but it's far from his worst (Good Omens).

Comments

Scott
Scott on 03/26/2010 2:10 p.m.

I admit my enjoyment of <i>Stardust</i> can be attributed to the fact that I'm a sucker for a good love story. Plus, it was just so much fun to read. As for <i>Good Omens</i>, it has been 6 or 7 years since I read it, but the whole time I remember thinking "I'd rather be reading <i>Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy</i>."

Erin Leigh
Erin Leigh on 03/28/2010 3:09 a.m.

I'm glad you too are underwhelmed by Gaiman. I've always felt like such a mutant in thinking his books are...a let down...because everyone else I know practically wets themselves over his novels.

However, I have been itching to try <i>Stardust</i> and <i>The Graveyard Book</i>...perhaps I will trepidatiously pick one up.

Scott
Scott on 03/29/2010 5:54 a.m.

I actually haven't read anything else by Pratchett - what would you recommend as a starting point?

I'm not familiar with Peter David either, but I've added that to my reading list. Thanks!

Scott
Scott on 03/29/2010 5:57 a.m.

As I said above, keep in mind I'm a sucker for a love story, but I thought <i>Stardust</i> was a lot of fun, and if you're not looking for anything too serious it's a very enjoyable read.

With both it and <i>The Graveyard Book</i> I think if you go into them with muted expectations you will find them clever and enjoyable, if nothing else.

Christy
Christy on 03/29/2010 8:35 p.m.

I have read Gaiman's Stardust and Neverwhere. I thought Stardust was all right, but I didn't like Neverwhere all that much. I was annoyed by the main character and didn't quite buy into the world he had created. I've heard Gaiman speak and he's a terrific, funny speaker. But I just was not wowed by the books I read.

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