Friday, July 31, 2015

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: July 2015

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, please sign on to the link list at the end of my post.

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
via Wikipedia
Imagine The Jungle Book set in an English cemetery rather than an Indian rainforest.  That, in a nutshell, is The Graveyard Book.  As I've written before, Neil Gaiman's work is hit or miss for me.  This one was a bullseye.

The basic narrative structure is Kipling but the world-building is Gaiman, with an assist from illustrator Dave McKean, his longtime collaborator.  A little boy, on the run from a man who had just murdered his family, wanders into an old cemetery.  The ghostly inhabitants take him in and do their best to raise him as clearly not one of their own.  They give him a near-anonymous name: Nobody Owens, Bod for short.  Bod's friends - truly his extended family - span centuries and social classes, including the outcasts in the Potter's Field.  His Bagheera is Silas, a being who resides between the worlds of the dead and the living.

Bod does have occasional interactions with the world beyond the graveyard.  He befriends a little girl.  He goes to school briefly.  Unfortunately, such adventures leave him vulnerable to the man who is still out to kill him for reasons unknown.  So he spends most of his life behind the gates of the graveyard where Silas and the others can keep him safe.

It occurs to me in reading this book that my issues with Gaiman have nothing to do with his style.  He's a wonderful writer.  But his stories tend toward horror and I've never been so keen on the trappings of that genre.  I prefer wizards to vampires and elves to ghosts.  But I'm always up for suspense and The Graveyard Book delivers nicely.  It's one of those reads where the pace picks up considerably at the end, as the reader sorts out what's going on just ahead of the characters. 

The Graveyard Book was my daughter's choice for me in our most recent family book swap.  The story has been adapted into a graphic novel in two volumes.  A film is in the works, too, to be directed by Ron Howard.
 
Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past month.  This month's link list is below.  I'll keep it open until the end of the day.  I'll post August's tomorrow.  Meetings are the last Friday of each month.  Next gathering is August 28th.


32 comments:

  1. A lot of my students tell me they love Neil Gaiman. I've never read anything from him, but this sounds really good! I love ghosts and graveyard settings, so I may have to give this one a try.

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    1. I really like this one. Again, I do not always care for his work but this book seems destined to be a classic.

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  2. It's in my top three by Gaiman, along with Neverwhere and Good Omens.
    Have you looked at The Ocean at the End of the Lane?

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    1. I don't know that one. I will keep an eye out.

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    2. It's a bit more dark and closer to horror but still full of suspense. I have a review on my blog.

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  3. I'll bet a movie would be good, but it would be hard to translate his vision to the screen.

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    1. I guess we'll find out. I think it can be done. I think it will help that the immediate world of the graveyard is relatively small.

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  4. I love the sound of this one! Great review.
    Veronica

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  5. I've only read Coraline, but I have a few other Gaiman books I haven't read, this being one of them. I need to put it higher up my TBR pile.

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    1. I haven't read Coraline but I loved the movie. Daughter liked the book so she might send it my way at some point.

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  6. That sounds good, but I am frightened by scary things and might have nightmares. Then Franklin would have to get up to comfort me.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. It's not so scary as all that. More spooky.

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  7. I agree with you about Gaiman. Some of his books don't appeal to me. But I adored The Graveyard Book. Loved the ghosts.

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    1. The world building is so strong. I would have been happy for Bod to spend the entire book just exploring the graveyard.

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  8. Sounds interesting.
    I am not into so much scary and spooky and of course no horror !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. I wouldn't have thought I would either but it was fun.

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  9. I haven't heard of the book or author, but I like the idea of a family book swap.

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    1. It's loads of fun. It certainly helps that both my wife and my daughter have excellent taste in books.

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  10. My favorite Neil Gaiman book is American Gods. And I love his first two short story collections, Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors.

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    1. I haven't read any of those. Perhaps I should.

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  11. I am a big fan of Neil- and especially love his Sandman series. They are graphic novels and I can't get enough of them. I read this book and really enjoyed it too. I am glad you liked it!
    ~Jess

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    1. Actually, Sandman is one of the ones I didn't like. I've read several of his comic books, actually, and, now that I think of it, haven't really taken to any of them.

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  12. If it's good, I like the horror genre. The trouble is - a lot of it isn't good at all. This one sounds great and I'm writing down the title. I think this will be my next read.

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    1. I'm just a wimp, especially when it comes to blood.

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  13. I work for a library and see Neil Gaiman's books go out a lot. I've never read him, though! I will have to check out this book.Thank you for the recommendation. :)

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  14. I posted, very late, but still, I posted! And it's a crap review as it's so short. But I just wanted to get a post up :P

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  15. I'm quite a wimp and don't like horror but this sounds as though it has friendly ghosts.

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    1. Yes, for the most part, the ghosts are the good guys.

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