"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
This was another book that I kind of expected to like more than I actually did. It felt more like a collection of short stories then a novel -- and when I went to my book club group to discuss it, I discovered that Gaiman was in fact aiming for something of a "hybrid" between a collection of short stories and a novel. Unfortunately, it fell a little short on both counts. Although each of the anecdotes were well written and entertaining in their own right, when strung together they didn't feel cohesive enough to be satisfying as a novel. And yet they couldn't stand alone as short stories very well, either -- sort of the "worst of both worlds," unfortunately. I also didn't like how often the story drifted from Bod's point of view, into the perspective of the adult villain, bit characters, etc. One of my pet peeves in middle grade books is when they leave the child protagonist's PoV.
But obviously if I gave it almost four stars there were things I liked about it beyond the fact that it was written by Neil Gaiman. The setting, of course, has a lot going for it -- I could really picture the graveyard where Bod grew up, as well as the many characters that inhabited it. The story idea itself is unique and Gaiman executes it well. The story has a nice balance of frights, humor, and warmth. And the ending is satisfying in a totally heartbreaking way.
I look forward to the movie adaptation as I think it's a story well suited to film, and I hope to read the graphic novel interpretations as well. There's a lot worth "seeing" in this story. Also, I appreciate it a little more learning that it's a bit of a nod to The Jungle Book, which I coincidentally also happen to be reading right now. How's that for spooky?