Monday, February 23, 2009

speaking of books

I wish I'd posted about this book sooner. Once you're my age, it's nearly impossible to recall many details from a book you read an entire TWO WEEKS ago.

I wish I'd bumped this book up to the top of my list last year when I first heard about it. Then I could have rooted for it to win the Newberry and felt all gratified when it did.

The Graveyard Book has a very unique setting and characters, which is admirable in this day and age when it seems everything has been done to death. It is loosely based on The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, but the setting is a graveyard instead of a jungle. There is an attempt at a plot, but it fades in the middle to a series of episodes. Some of the episodes were merely ok, but others were stunningly original and utterly delightful. I think the Dance Macabre chapter could have won its own Newberry. I would have liked a little more fleshing out of some of the ghosts' characters. They were too faintly drawn--mere outlines, really, with little substance. Ethereal. Get it? Oh, I kill me. One of the most appealing things to me about Gaiman's writing is what he leaves unsaid. He creates all kinds of mystery and interest by keeping things pared down. However, I think in this case that strength sometimes became a liability.

The sly humor in this book was immensely satisfying, just as in Coraline. Now, did I like it better than Coraline? Hmm. That's tough. I do not think I liked it better, but likely just as much. I think Gaiman took more risks in The Graveyard Book, and though they didn't always work for me (there were some plot points that didn't hold together), I give him kudos for the attempt.


Brenda said...

Hmmm, wonder if I can Kindle that? Another friend is reading The Far Pavilions right now, she indicated on her blog. Have you read or heard about that book?

Calandria said...

I have heard good things about that, but haven't read it yet.

Brenda said...

Downloaded Graveyard last night. And also the new Kenneth Oppel book, Starclimber--can't wait. I still haven't read Brisingr, somehow I feel like that will be good for summer read. Ah, if I could just read all the time!