Hey you all. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. No worries, nothing bad happened, in fact a lot of good happened! I participated in a reading club revolving around the Dutch YA book Falco en de gestolen Stympha’s (if you haven’t read it put it on your list 😉 ), I wrote a short story (about a girl living in the time of emperor Justinian when the Mediterranean was devastated by a plague that cost many, many lives) that’s going to be published this weekend on historischeverhalen.nl and I got a really cool offer from a well-known Dutch YA-author that I can’t tell anything about yet but that’s got me jumping all around the room and hyperventilating from stress at the same time haha. On top of all that I’m studying like crazy to pass my exam Perspectives on History and I’m trying to finish all my reading for my Ba thesis. It’s a bit stressfull at the moment, but I’m really enjoying myself with all the different projects! Of course I’m still reading for entertainment too. And yesterday I read a really awesome book called The Graveyard Book written by Neil Gaiman. I hadn’t read anything by Neil before, but I’m putting his name on my ‘authors to follow’ list! So what’s this book about?
After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…
I loved everything about this book! Bod is a really sympathetic and cool main character. Throughout the story the reader sees him growing up, following him from toddler to teen. Bod is headstrong, kind, adventurous, and really curious. His curiosity paired with his sense of adventure leads him into all kind of mysteries and troubles. And along the way he finds a lot of friends in unlikely places. From a human girl wandering the cemetery ground, to the ghost of a teenage-aged witch buried in unhallowed ground, from a troublesome guardianghost in a Celtic burial mound to the entrance of a world full of corpse-eating monsters. But, despite all these mysteries contained on one ancient cemetery Bod yearns to discover the world of ordinary humans. People who breathe and exist like him. Yet that is the one thing Bod can’t do because when he leaves the graveyard a ruthless clan of killers will find him and finish the job they started when Bod was just a little boy. However, as Bod gets older he doesn’t care about the consequences anymore. He wants to go to school and lead at least part of a normal life. When his guardian Silas agrees to Bod going to a normal school everything changes and the inevitable future is set into motion…
I really liked the fact that all the inhabitants of the graveyard became a surrogate family for Bod. He is adopted by the Owenses, a lovely couple from the eighteenth (or nineteenth?) century. His education is provided by ghosts from different places and times and not only teaches him basic things like reading and writing, but also fading, dreamwalking and scaring people mentally. In some ways Bod is like the ghosts that are his family and in others he is as human as the rest of us. He literally balances on the divide between the living and the dead. But, the more he is immersed in the real world the weaker his connection with the dead becomes.
Added to this wonderfully magic background is the suspense of the killers that want to kill Bod. Why was his family murdered? Why does the murderer still want to finish his job? And why is there a whole clan of killers involved in these murders? I won’t betray the plot here, but I thought the plot was geniously created and masterfully unraffled.
At the end of the book I really had to do my best not to cry. Because Bod is human he can’t stay on the graveyard forever. This also means that a farewell is inevitable. However, I never suspected how final that last goodbye would be. The ending is kind of happy-sad. The reader knows that Bod has an adventurous future ahead of him, but he also has to leave everything he has ever known and cared about behind.
If you’re looking for a suspensefull, magical story with a sympathetic main character and loads of interesting supporting characters pick up Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book! Who knew how fantastical a Junglebook retelling could be?!