The Graveyard Book Read-Along: Part 3

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This is the final post in The Graveyard Book Read-Along hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. You can find parts 1 and 2 here and here. In this final post I’m talking about Chapter 7 and 8 so there are obviously spoilers.

The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman

Every Man Jack: This chapter brought us the unexplained absence of Silas and the return of Bod’s childhood friend Scarlett. She and her mother move back to the small town and she makes friends with a man named Mr. Frost. Though I’d read the book before, I somehow forgot who Frost is revealed to be, so it caught me completely by surprise.

This is by far the scariest chapter in the book. The Jacks, who have been hunting Bod for years, are finally revealed in an ultimate fight between good and evil. We learn that Silas has been trying to eliminate Jacks all over the world with other members of the Honor Guard. The five remaining villains converge in the graveyard in an effort to void the prophesy that predicted Bod would be the end of their secret society.

By the end of the battle both sides have incurred losses. Bod looses both Miss Lupescu and in another way he loses his friend Scarlett again. He also looses his innocence in a way. He does what he has to in order to survive, but it changes him. 

Leavings and Partings: The book’s conclusion hit all the right notes for me. It was sweet and hopeful. Bod is only 15, but his time in the graveyard has come to an end. He feels the change and though he doesn’t understand it he accepts it. We know this when he answers his own question about returning to the graveyard.
“If I come back, it will be a place, but it won’t be home any longer."

I loved that he had the perfect goodbye with each person. I thought Mr. Owens was particularly poignant when he tells Bod that he is the son he always longed for during his life. Bod knew it wouldn’t be easy to walk away, but he does and that’s incredibly brave.
“But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.”

BOTTOM LINE: It’s a wonderful, creepy coming-of-age story. Gaiman creates an unforgettable world in the graveyard and these characters will stay with me forever.

I also want to mention the illustrations in the book (done by Dave McKean). The first time I read it was as an audiobook, wonderfully narrated by the author himself. I missed the illustrations and they add so much to the story! They capture the spooky elements in Gaiman’s novel beautifully and I’d encourage you to get your hands on a copy to check them out if you listened to the audiobook.

Image from The Graveyard Book.


annieb said...

So, another Sunday posting and another book for my TBR pile. I read American Gods this year and loved it, so I am ready to explore more Neil Gaiman. I have been introduced to more books through this blog.

Carl V. Anderson said...

So glad to hear that Frost caught you by surprise again. It is a fun surprise when that is the case. I've re-read books many times and been surprised by things like that which I didn't remember. I don't mind that kind of memory loss, it makes re-reading particularly fun.

I'm glad you got to experience McKean's illustrations. I think they fit the mood of the story perfectly.

It is a sad but hopeful story, which is what life is. There is a lot of sorrow in life if one lives long enough but there is so much hope there to grab hold of and not let go. The final chapter of this book couldn't be more perfect in my mind. The partings are bittersweet but so well done and I certainly walk away with the belief that Bod goes on to live a life worthy of all he encountered in his life to that point.

Thanks so much for re-reading with us and participating in the discussions. It has been great to read this with a group and I appreciate you so much.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

annieb - It's weird for me to post on Sundays, but that was the read-along schedule. This one is wonderful though and you should definitely read it!

Carl - Hopeful is the perfect way to describe the story. There is sadness and joy, but it ends on a beautifully hopeful note. I'm so glad you hosted this!

nrlymrtl said...

I too enjoyed the illustrations throughout the book. They added some beautiful details to the story.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

nrlymrtl - They did! I was glad to have a chance to read a hard copy and listen to it. They felt like very different experiences.

Deb Atwood said...

I so agree! This is a beautiful story that will stay with me forever, too.

Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous said...

Oh good, I'm glad I'm not the only one who forgot about the Mr. Frost twist! It seems like something I'd remember, and yet...

You chose lovely quotes to capture that poignant ending. :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Cheryl - I think it's easy to forget that part because it's not really about the Jacks in the end, it's about Bod. I love that.