The Graveyard Book Read-Along: Part 1

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I first read The Graveyard Book a few years ago, before I was blogging. I immediately loved the tone of the book. Gaiman blended the innocence and naïveté of a young boy with the dark atmosphere of a ghost story. I’m re-reading it at a slower pace and I’ve noticed so much more that I love about the book. It’s a coming-of-age story and at its heart it’s about a boy who feels like he doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. That unifying feeling makes the book applicable to just about anyone, but especially young teens.

The first three chapters include How Nobody Came to the Graveyard, The New Friend, and The Hounds of God. The first chapter reminds me so much of The Jungle Book. I know this was an intentional decision on Gaiman’s part to loosely retell that story and I think he did it beautifully. Bod is struggling to figure out his place in the world while being raised in a very foreign environment, just as Mowgli did.

I also think it was interesting to structure the book as a collection of short stories instead of as a seamless novel. Giving us glimpses into Bod’s life as he grows up works wonderfully. Each chapter contains its own little story while at the same time adding pieces to the deeper mystery behind the murder of Bod’s family. I like that some things are implied, not spelled out. We can guess a bit about who Silas is, but we don’t know for sure where he comes from or what he is.

The New Friend chapter broke my heart for Bod. For the first time in his life he finds a living friend. She’s kind and playful and Bod is happy. But circumstances beyond his control end the friendship before it really has a chance to begin. Also, the indigo man and the whole cave were super creepy.

The Hounds of God is probably my least favorite chapter. I still loved the evolution of Bod’s relationship with Miss Lupescu, but not the kidnapping of Bod by the ghouls as much. I do think it was crucial for Bod to realize how much he values his life in the graveyard and this chapter does that. It also reminded me a tiny bit of the dwarves being captured by the trolls in The Hobbit.

Up next week I’ll talk about Chapters 4-6. Thanks again to Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting this read-along as part of his R.I.P. event!


Sandy Nawrot said...

I read this book right when it came out. I read it aloud to the kids, and my mother was HORRIFIED over the whole thing. It is definitely a bizarre book but we all loved it.

Jeanne said...

I read this once when I was sick ( and hadn't thought of re-reading it, but now that you mention it this might be the time, while recovering from something else.

Enbrethiliel said...


I can't believe I forgot about this book! I'm doing "Burial Grounds" for Locus Focus this month, and of course the cemetery would be right up my alley!

Thanks for the reminder. =)

Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous said...

I like the comparison to Mowgli--in plot, it is sort of a supernatural Jungle Book! Which, come to think of it, I think was fairly episodic too.

I also love that Gaiman hasn't specified at all just what Silas is--but those little hints are there!

Jenners said...

I will definitely be reading this!

TBM said...

I also thought of the Hobbit when I read that chapter.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - That is hilarious. I am so bad about figuring out which books are age appropriate for my neices and nephews. Every kid is different so it's hard to tell!

Jeanne - Some books don't offer much on a second read, but this one really has for me.

Enbrethiliel - This would be perfect for that!

Cheryl - I love that he retold Kipling's famous story in such a unique way.

Jenners - I think you'll like it!

TBM - It was really similar.

Vasilly said...

I love this post! The Hounds of God is one of my favorite chapters because it was so creepy! Yes, the New Friend chapter is definitely a heart-breaker. I'm looking forwarding to read next week's post on The Graveyard Book.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Vasilly - It's been good to break the book down slowly. I read it so fast the first time because I loved it, but I'm noticing much more this time around.