Although I enjoy reading fantasy, in fact, it’s my favorite genre, I haven’t read much of Neil Gaiman. In all honesty, I’d never heard of him until a few years ago while in college. After a friend’s review of American Gods left me non-plussed, I decided to set him at the bottom of my to-read list and move on.
Over the summer, I decided to write a fantasy and so I also decided I needed to read some of the top names in fantasy both today and in the past. As Gaiman was set to release a new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I decided to try him out and pre-ordered the book on my Kindle. I liked it, but it left me with this hole. I needed more. The Ocean at the End of the Lane wasn’t a book to pick up, put down, and then let it cover dust. It was one of those books that needed to be explored. And the more I explored it, the more and more I got it.
But enough about The Ocean at the End… This review is about another Neil Gaiman work: The Graveyard Book.
After reading The Graveyard Book, I realized that there are two things Gaiman does extraordinarily well. He can write the child’s coming-of-age experience in many different situations from any different perspectives and they are phenomenal, and he does an amazing job at leaving the reader guessing the meaning. Because the meaning changes from day to day, hour to hour, lifetime to lifetime. And I think that’s also the reason that explains how he writes the coming-of-age novel so well.
The Graveyard Book was interesting, especially in the beginning, but I felt my mind wandering in the middle and I spent a couple days looking at it out of the corner of my eye and feeling guilty that I just couldn’t get into it. Once through the 200s, the plot picked up nicely once more. In the middle, it was if the two stories that were supposed to really be one story didn’t quite match up. But it came together nicely in the end.
*Spoiler* The most significant thing, to me, is the connection between the excerpt at the beginning of the book from chapter two and the near end of the book. In the excerpt, a little girl, Scarlett, the only human friend the human graveyard-dweller, Bod, has, says, “You shouldn’t leave me.” After Bod saves her and avenges his family’s murder, she’s the one that does the leaving. Bod needs her to have something human to hold on to, just like she needed something warm to keep her safe when they were exploring the Sleer’s cave in chapter two. Bod protected her, kept her safe, but she doesn’t like the means that lead to the end and so she leaves and forgets him forever.
But it’s a lesson, and I think it’s a different lesson for everyone, depending on your own experiences.