The Graveyard Book — Review by Chris

I don't know why some books are labeled "juvenile" or "young adult" fiction. Oh, I'm sure there's a marketing reason — but such indications may warn us away from books we will enjoy, even if we weren't the intended audience.

Take The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It's a Newbery Award winner, which relegates it to a certain section of the library. However, I never met a Gaiman book I didn't like, and I have found Newberys very enjoyable reads — so I went to the graveyard. And I'm glad I did.

In the hands of Gaiman, anything is possible. Son of a god? Sure! Traipsing around an alternate universe just because you helped an injured stranger? Why not?

Growing up in a graveyard? In the hands of Gaiman, it's plausible.

Nobody Owens wound up in the neighborhood graveyard under nefarious circumstances. He toddled into the dark, hallowed ground and became a resident of the graveyard. He wound up with parents who loved him and a guardian who saw to his needs. He lived in a community full of disparate personalities who help him grow and learn about life.

Gaiman doesn't insult the reader by coming right out and stating the obvious. Instead, he paints a picture. Who is Silas, this person who can walk among the living and yet be a part of the dead? What kind of name is Ms. Lupescu, and why does she want to teach him how to call a Gaunt? How can a living, breathing person spend years living in a graveyard and never be "caught"? What exactly is the Indigo Man? Is Bod still in danger? Where is Jack — or better yet, who is Jack?

Gaiman patiently builds this world, imperturbably weaving strong, rich fibers into an indelible tapestry that one marvels at even during its creation. And the finale! Gaiman brings the story to a crecendo that made me cheer — with a tinge of regret, if only because it was too good to end.

Unlike a few reviewers who blurbed on the book jacket, I don't want a sequel. I like it the way it is. Gaiman knows how to leave a reader sated. I wouldn't reject a sequel, but considering it took a couple of decades for this story to be told, I wouldn't want to rush the storyteller — if, of course, he was inclined to take us a little further. Gaiman is worth the wait.

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