Gaiman's most recent "YA" novel clearly show his versatility as an author, as he charms audiences of all ages. While The Graveyard Book is most certainly written for a much younger, children's audience but was still quite an enjoyable read, even for me.
Nobody Owens, the sweet, kind, lovable boy known to his friends (and enemies) as Bod, is growing up in the most unusual of circumstances. After his family is brutally murdered by a man named Jack, toddler Bod narrowly escapes by crawling his way to a nearby graveyard. In a unique re-telling of The Jungle Book, Bod is taken in by the ghosts of the graveyard and taught all matters of things, from how to read to how to Fade to how to open a ghoul-gate.
While Bod's adventures are highly entertaining and painted by Gaiman with descriptive and palpable verve, I found the stringing together of his experiences to be a little loose. The story felt fragmented to me with not quite enough glue to hold the various storylines together. Certain parts that seemed to hold a lot of weight to me ended up not being mentioned again much to my disappointment. The plots that did tie back in were more satisfying ultimately, but I still felt like there was too much going on, too many stories and too much time to cover, for the story to really be as cohesive as I would have liked. I still don't even quite understand what happened with the main story.
The main message, however, and Bod's growth and development was strong enough to overshadow the flaws I found in the storyline itself, so I still kept turning the pages. The supporting cast of characters was also quirky and engaging, holding my interest. I loved the young witch, Liza (who seems to me to be crushing on our dear Bod just a tad!); Bod's mysterious Guardian, Silas; his trusting and vulnerable friend, Scarlett; and all the crazy characters resting not so peacefully in the graveyard's hallowed ground.
I must also say that I give Gaiman props for writing a children's book with such dark and morbid topics and making it seem light and understated. And the illustrations by Dave McKean were a nice addition to a book so wrought with imagery.
The Last Word: An entertainingly unique telling of an age-old story, full of unfamiliar and imaginative characters and adventures.