“The Graveyard Book” Readalong, Parts II & III

So I didn’t quite get my Graveyard Book post up last week… the combination of grad school and the new job have been a bit rough, but I only have a semester and a half left to go after this one.  I can’t wait to finally be done with school!

This will just be a quick post, because I just finished a paper and need to go to bed before waking up at 5:30 am to go to work.  I’ll need lots of caffeine to avoid being Zombie Librarian.

Warning – from this point forward, there will be major plot spoilers from Chapter 4 through the end of Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book.”

I love the way that Neil Gaiman creates the theme that the world isn’t entirely bad, and that not everything that seems scary is inherently evil.  Liza Hempstock and the Sleer are both great examples of this.  The chapter where Bod gives Liza a headstone was my favorite part of the entire book; even though everyone told Bod to stay away from Liza because she was a witch, she ended up being a true friend and a good person who just happened to get shafted with some bad luck.  I’m glad that Bod had the good sense to look past everyone else’s prejudices and make a new friend.  And the Sleer?  The Sleer is just awesomely creepy, and I love that it’s not malevolent, but just has motivations of its own.

Ghouls, on the other hand, are just nasty.  So are Jacks of All Trades.  Even though Gaiman created a lot of characters that are rough on the outside but just misunderstood, he allows that there are still evil things in the world that will try to harm you, whether or not you are nice to them.

I’m not sure that I particularly cared for the way that the book ended (even though I loved the book).  I realize that it’s meant to be a parallel to “The Jungle Book,” but let’s face it… a fifteen or sixteen year old with a pocketful of cash is going to have a hard time being thrust into the world without some sort of direction, especially if he has no idea about modern life. I don’t think that going for pizza with Silas counts as understanding the world, and even when he went to school, Bod was very sheltered.  I fear for him a bit.  Perhaps Neil Gaiman will revisit Bod in a short story later on and let us know that he found a place for himself.  I’d like that.

I still totally think that Silas is a vampire.  There was that part at the end where he was talking with Bod about how he used to do bad things, as bad as Jack, even.  When he said that, I kept thinking to myself “Yeah, he’s a vampire alright.”

What did everyone else think of the book?

16 thoughts on ““The Graveyard Book” Readalong, Parts II & III

  1. Hi Grace – Hope you’re loving your job even though it means you’re really busy!
    I loved this book and I think you make a really good point about the balancing act. It’s not too sweet is it – we have a level of evil as well to counterbalance the goodness. I thought the ‘Jacks’ were a fantastic creation!
    I can see what you mean about the ending. I felt sad that Bod was leaving the graveyard but also felt that it was sort of inevitable and also that it was something that he had to do. It would be amazing if Gaiman revisited!
    Lynn 😀

    1. I’m loving every moment of it, despite the waking up super early and being tired all the time. It’s so nice to be able to go to work and actually enjoy being there.

      I love that Gaiman’s worlds can be sinister and foreboding but still contain a feeling of childhood magic. I want to read more of his books soon!

    1. Mhm! I like books that are creepy but where main characters don’t end up being the victims of an axe murderer. Gaiman is perfect because he can build such a delightfully creepy atmosphere which has almost a Tim Burton aesthetic. 🙂

  2. Yes! Not everything scary is inherently evil. Exactly – and that is a theme I have noticed in most, if not all, of Gaiman’s works.

    I too worried about turning Bod loose in the world without a guide. On one hand I worry that he will run afoul of people who just want to use him or beat him up for his money. But then I think of the Bad Guys he has already trounced. Hopefully Gaiman will revisit this world some day.

    1. I think he’ll be able to hold his own against bad guys. I’m more worried about the economy, lol.

      I love the way that Gaiman creates a world that’s delightfully creepy without being inherently malicious. Books like that just make me happy.

  3. I loved the mythology of the Jacks of All Trades…or Knaves. Such a creative way to use a common phrase! 🙂

    I must admit, I didn’t pick up on Silas being a vampire until you mentioned it, but I can totally see the parallels now. There’s even a throwaway line near the end about how Silas doesn’t have a reflection. But I’m happy that Gaiman never made it explicit and instead kept it a little mysterious.

    1. The Jacks of All Trades made such excellent villains. I was excited to find out who Jack was working for, and the Jacks were a fun little conspiracy.

  4. I’m with you–the Liza chapter was my very favorite. I was okay with the ending. I think in England you are allowed to leave school at sixteen–something about their school examination system. (Fifteen seemed young though.) I was sad that he lost his ability to connect with the graveyard people. A sequel could be fun. Maybe Silas really will get in trouble, despite his assurances to the contrary, and Bod will get him out of it.

    1. That would make a good sequel. And even if Bod can leave school at 15, if the setting is modern enough for cell phones, then he’ll probably have trouble finding a job. I worry about him, and I hope he does okay. I was sad that he couldn’t see the graveyard people too… it was such a bittersweet end.

  5. Thank you, I’m glad someone else thinks Bod is not really in a good position to be flung out into the world! But, as you say, Jungle Book parallel…

    Great observation about how some things look frightening but aren’t–and some things really are dangerous!

    And yeah, he’s *definitely* a vampire.

    1. In addition to a “Bod really does turn out okay” short story, I want one about vampire Silas. I think it would be neat to learn more about his backstory.

  6. I loved this book! And no apologies. We all know how busy you are. I did like zombie librarian though—that’s a fun image. I feel bad since I was sick this week and blew off writing my last post. Ooops. I plan on doing a review of the novel so hopefully that will make up for it. good luck with everything. 1.5 semesters left of school. You might not believe this now, but in a few years, you may miss the busy lifestyle. But you may not 🙂

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.