The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman, 2008

Hugo Winner - 2009

Honestly, I can't blame all of my review hiatus on Red, White, and Royal Blue. That book I liked so much I found it hard to review. This book I didn't like enough. 

And here's the thing - I know it's personal. More a particular quirk of timing than most of my reasons for liking this book or that book. In the first few pages of The Graveyard Book, a family is murdered and a toddler is stalked by a killer through the streets of a small town. This is presented in a dark way, but it's all just the setup. It's all the "once upon a time" for the story of a boy adopted and raised by the ghosts of a graveyard and a series of intriguing (if never truly amazing) linked stories about the adventures he has.

And I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle the fact that a child (the main character's sister, who is barely spoken of for the rest of the book) and her parents were brutally killed in the first few pages. I don't think it's supposed to be particularly upsetting, any more than the death of Cinderella's mother - it's the necessary plot to get the protagonist where they need to be for the story to happen. 

But I am a different person than I was a few years ago. Since becoming a mom, I often can't handle violence toward children unless I'm warned and prepared. And this was the first thing in the book. If it wasn't a Hugo winner, I very likely would have closed the file, returned the Kindle copy to the library early, and never gone back. It just hit me wrong that day, and my reading of the book never really recovered.

Once I got into the actual story, I enjoyed aspects of it, but I never really connected with any characters, and for me, it never fully coalesced into something more than a handful of neat ideas. Wikipedia tells me it's partially inspired by The Jungle Book, and I can see that. I like the premise, and I wish I liked the book more. 

2 Stars - An Okay Book


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