The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was recommended to me by a friend. It is not a book I would have picked up on my own because of its fantasy elements and the fact that it is YA but I found myself sucked into the world created by Mr. Gaiman.
The characters in the book were very well written. I sympathized and loved the graveyard inhabitants, I respected Silas and Bod was innocently charming. He was very likeable and I liked that he was depicted in a way that would be expected of someone raised in such a somber environment. He always had an air of maturity around him when I read him and he sounded very intellectual. He thirsted for knowledge and his speech reflected that he was raised by people centuries old; people from different times. I also liked his ever constant calm and I would like to think that was the Silas Bod had in him.
Silas was by far my favorite character. I fell in love with him immediately and as Bod angered and hurt him, my feelings for Bod changed. I cared too much for Silas and his disturbance was a greater evil than anything found in the book. And when I found myself reacting to Bod and Silas, I realized how much the book had touched me. I was reacting to them and I liked it because that meant they were well written enough and real enough that they warranted my reaction.
The man Jack is someone that I initially liked but as I saw his character develop I stopped caring about him. He became too human. And I did not like that. I imagined him and hoped he would be another Silas – stoic and wonderfully aloof. But he wasn’t and that was disappointing. Towards the end of the book, the man Jack ceased to affect me as a character.
The setting was vividly described. I could smell and feel everything Bod felt. The trees and the apples, the decrepit chapel and the crypts. It had the spooky element when needed and it felt real and genuine. Likewise, it had a domestic and cheerful element to it when needed. I liked the descriptions of the town and although I understand why the settings changed – for character development – it annoyed me. Particularly because the other settings seemed to be cut and pasted into place. It seemed awkward, even forced at times, and it frustrated me. I wanted to get on with Bod’s story without the side adventures and change of settings but I know they were necessary for it so I took it as a required evil I had to endure.
The plot was obvious at times and forgotten at others. I did not know if there was going to be closure concerning the man Jack because so much of the book is Bod’s explorations and adventures. I assumed it would have to be dealt with because it is YA and he is the ‘bad guy’ but I wondered at times. I also liked the development of the characters around Bod that helped with the plot advancement.
I appreciated that there was more than one conflict in the book. Because this is a coming of age book, I liked that it showed sub-conflicts in accordance with Bod’s center; e.g. Silas, his parents, his own curiosity with the outside and forbidden. It kept the story from reading too perfectly – Bod is after all human.
The resolution was terribly anti-climactic concerning what I identify as the main plotline. The conclusion of the book as a whole is perfectly melancholy and makes me react to it. I liked that. The conclusion to Bod’s battle was indifferent at best – I was more interested in the battles taking place elsewhere, with Silas – but that also might be because I did not quite like or care about the man Jack by the time I got to that part of the story. The ending was not happy and for that I am grateful. It was right. I think that’s what saved the conclusion for me.
Overall not a bad book but wanting. I went in expecting more than I got but it is YA. This is not my genre and I find most YA that I like leaving me wanting. So good in that I would have liked more substance but a bit not good in that I fear it would have read like it was cut and pasted without an attempt to making it blend and flow.
Neil Gaiman is an exquisite writer. It reads like a beautiful melody in segments but as a whole it seemed to stumble, especially with the side episodes. I believe the entire book could have done without chapter six. That was the most infuriating section of the book for me. The chapter dragged and, in my opinion, it was purposeless filler.
The one memorable thing that I cannot forget of this book is Silas. He makes the entire book worthwhile for me and it is because of him that I do not dislike the book. To dislike the book would be a betrayal to him.
The Reading Tortie