The Graveyard Book Readalong, Part I

Readalongs 11 Comments 8th October, 2012

Hey everyone!  Welcome to this week’s discussion of the first part of Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book.”

For anyone just joining in, the readalong is hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Links to other people’s thoughts can be found here. Oh, and from this point onward there will be major plot spoilers from chapters 1-3. You have been warned!

One of the things that I’ve noticed thus far is that each chapter is almost a story in itself.  In the first chapter, we learn about a little boy who came to live in a graveyard after his parents were murdered by Jack-who-isn’t-the-Ripper with a big knife.  I had initially thought that he was Jack the Ripper, but then a later chapter mentioned airplanes, which weren’t around in the late 1880s.  Either way, I thought that the idea of a boy being raised in a graveyard was delightfully spooky, and adorable at the same time.  The ghosts are the kind of people that I’d love to spend time with, as they each have their own quirky personalities.

In the second chapter, we learn about how the little boy known as Nobody Owens makes his first friend who isn’t a dead person.  The world beneath the hill reminded me of something straight out of Lovecraft, and I kept wanting to tell Bod that going down there was a bad idea.  I liked how Gaiman made fear itself to be something more dangerous than the monsters in the hill, which is a nice little twist on a familiar theme.

Now, for the third chapter.  This was my favorite, because Bod’s new guardian is such a typical Russian mother.  I am jealous that Bod got to eat borscht and dumplings and beet salad every day, and I’m perturbed that he didn’t appreciate it.  At the same time, I can see how there’s a gap in understanding between Bod and Miss Lupuescu were coming from two completely different backgrounds.  Neither one respected the other until disaster struck.

I like the fact that each chapter is so distinctive and tells its own story.  It makes the book quite amenable to a readalong format, because the story is broken down into small chunks and there aren’t major cliffhangers from one section into the next.  Neil Gaiman’s a great storyteller; this is rapidly putting me into a Halloween mood!

Does anyone else think that Silas is a vampire?

11 Responses to “The Graveyard Book Readalong, Part I”

  1. Christina

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this book. I’m doing the read-a-long too, but I just left a comment on Carl’s discussion entry rather than making my own post. I’ve already finished the book — once I started, I wanted to keep reading! There’s lots more fun stuff in store. :)

    • Grace

      I’m excited for next week’s discussion. I’ve been taking this one slowly, because real life has been busy and I’ve had a lot less time for blogging, but I was so tempted to just keep reading once I finished last week’s section. I’m curious to see what else Gaiman will come up with.

  2. Caroline

    I thought Miss Lupescu is Romanian because of the name which is like Ceaucescu… Maybe the food is similar to Russian food. I was wondering if Silas is Death.

    • Grace

      Yeah, the name didn’t seem Russian. The food did though, so that would make sense. I think that most Eastern European motherly types are similar. :)

  3. TBM

    I have wondered if Silas was a vampire, but Caroline’s comment that he might be death is interesting as well. I need to pay closer attention to him.

  4. lynnsbooks

    Hey Grace
    I loved this book. Everything about it – and in fact I think the chapters keep getting better and better. At first I thought Silas was Death – however, I’ve heard a few people who have made reference to him being a vampire so I’m inclined to think they may have a point.
    Lynn :D

    • Grace

      He’d make an interesting Death, actually. I hadn’t even considered it. I thought vampire because he goes in and out of the graveyard, and I imagined that it was to feed.

  5. cherylmahoney

    Huh, the Jack-the-Ripper connection is interesting. Can’t actually be him both for the time and the choice of victims (seeing as the Ripper killed prostitutes…I got dragged on a Jack the Ripper tour once and know more than I want to now) BUT I do wonder if there’s any intended connection in the name.

    And I fully believe Silas is a vampire. That’s a guess, because even though I’ve read this before I don’t actually remember–so I look forward to finding out!

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