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23 February 2009


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Only anonymously do I have the nerve to agree. It's a nice book. I'm glad it won the Newbery. I do love the (especially for Gaiman) light-handed parallels to Mowgli and the Jungle book. But Gaiman's badguys tend to be caricatures and ultimately fail to engage me. He makes them them horrible, horrible, horrible, without actually making them real. Then they go poof! and then the book is done.


Bingo. I just finished it yesterday morning and, yes, of course I read it in one setting, and of course the prose is gorgeous. But he writes in archetypes and he always has and that just doesn't grab me the way that it (obviously) grabs other people. (Although I don't mind the baddies like anon does, they seem real enough to me.)


This is an excellent review - I agree almost 100%. It took me a long time to get into the book, so I found myself surprised by how much I really did like it at the end and that I was a little misty over the conclusion. But still, it didn't grip me.

Brian F.

I've always loved Gaiman's work. I'm a HUGE fan of his short stories (the short story that he works into the introduction of SMOKE AND MIRRORS might just be my favorite short story of all time). That said, I've read some other appraisals of this book and the recurring comment I'm seeing is that many people find his work to be cold. Well-written and crafted but cold. I can see where that would be the case with this book especially. I think the often sparse prose can lend a sense of emotional detachment and how well that works, I theorize, depends on what the reader brings to the work.

I thought the chapter with the ghouls was scary.


I felt the same way about this book (see here: http://kalafudra.wordpress.com/2008/10/23/the-graveyard-book-neil-gaiman/ ), though I don't agree that Gaiman writes mostly in archetypes or that his bad guys are necessarily caricatures. I think they usually are genuinely scary.


I agree, well mostly. I didn't find the baddie an archetype. I thought that the part with the girl seemed rushed at the end, and I'm not certain why. But I thought it was a very sweet book, and I was overjoyed when it won the Newberry.

American Gods is still my favorite of his writing. I still don't know how that one could be topped for me.

All this said, I followed up reading this with The Hunger Games and promptly had my mind BLOWN. That book was stunningly good (and the SURPRISES! It made me happy).


Wow, a whole group of us who liked the book and were pleased it won the Newbery but didn't love it! I also loved the ideas and the writing style but not the whole book.

Ms. Yingling

I didn't love it, but knew immediately that my students would. Because of that, I'm glad that it got the Newbery. I'm not a big Gaiman fan-- Coraline was just creeoy-- but know that my students like to be creeped out.


I did love this book, but I think part of the reason was that I listened to it read by Neil Gaiman instead of just reading it. Hearing it read out loud added another layer to it that I could see would be missing in print.


Maybe caricature or archetype isn't the word. Everyone who has commented has read the book, so I will risk a little spoilerism by saying that Gaiman's bad guy was really scary, but his background was phoned in. I thought the book was marvelous in the "present" or the "foreground" --I'm not sure how to put it best. But the brotherhood was just a bit of handwaving and it didn't work for me. I would have preferred no explanations at all, rather than that undeveloped bit. The same with the Honor Guard. I thought it was a weak way to prop up the story, and the story didn't need it, to begin with. I loved the Ghoul chapter the best. It makes the whole book for me.


Okay, you didn't love it, but then you reference the best Buffy episode ever and it just makes me want to read the book.


No one here mentioned the audience for the book. It is absolutely perfect for children, even the archetypes. It's about children and for them, and quite a gift to childrens' literature.Thank you Mr. Gaiman! (years later looking at reviews of this book!)

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