This book is tricky to review because it's being targeted as a middle grades/YA book with some higher level vocabulary (sort of Series of Unfortunate Events-esque), not terribly long, sparsely written. But it's actually a series of threaded stories. I can be very picky about vignettes as the format for story delivery. I liked House on Mango Street, but the vignette style doesn't work for every tale. I didn't really love it for The Graveyard Book. It felt to me that Gaiman didn't have a full, rich plot line-- just this concept of a child raised in a graveyard. Because really the plot was in the the second to last chapter. If you really want the meat and potatoes of this story just read the first chapter and second to last. Everything in between was sort of fluffy. I liked the middle stories well enough, but they weren't vital. Not at all. We're introduced to a variety of characters that don't really affect the outcome of the story.
I'm becoming a bit paranoid that I come across as if I don't like any of the books I review, which is not true. Not at all. If I finish a book, I couldn't have disliked it that much because I have no guilt in dropping a book that doesn't interest me or which seems like it won't delight me. This book had a sinister tone. It had some rich characters (I mean, there was a whole graveyard of ghosts from all different years hanging out together). It had an intriguing premise (true of nearly any Gaiman book).
But I felt like Gaiman left so much to be desired from the premise (typical for nearly all of Gaiman's work I've read). Upon discovering that this novel was inspired by The Jungle Book, I thought it was just not enough of an attempt. I never felt afraid, and I never felt attached to Bod. I was always wanting just a bit more. A bit more intrigue? A bit more relevance? A bit more compassion or love? A bit more suspense? A bit more clarity to these secret societies? A bit more logic? I'm not sure. But the tale seems disjointed and not skillfully woven together. Unless he's planning to build upon this with a series (which I sort of doubt).
I do want to make mention that since this book is being targeted towards young adult readers and middle grades the question of whether the book subject matter is inappropriate. I *personally* would not have liked it when I was in that audience. I did not find the novel gruesome, but there were some scenes that were just a bit rushed and cold in reference to murder. It's sort of like a Greek tragedy because the awful stuff is generally not "seen" but referenced. There are tense scenes and scenes meant to be eerie, but I think when you pick up a book titled The Graveyard Book you sort of anticipate that. The book has actually fewer creepy scenes than you'd imagine maybe. I just know that as an adolescent, I wasn't really a fan of this kind of reading. However, if you have a kid who loved Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas and Gaiman's Coraline, then this will be right up their alley. If you like the dark or the macabre, you'll like at least a few portions of the tale.
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