Book Review: Grave Matters

neil-gaimanReview by BENJAMIN G. GAN, 10

I like reading books by Neil Gaiman, because strange things always happen in them, and the kid in the story always has to figure out how to get out of the mess (or else!) with some help from friends or family. “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish” is pretty funny, because it has a brother and sister exchanging stuff back to get their father back. “Coraline” is a bit scarier, since the girl in the story gets stuck in a different world where this evil woman (Other Mother) wants to keep her forever and take out her eyes (and put buttons in them instead), but instead of giving up, Coraline looks for ways to defeat the magic of Other Mother. (Can’t wait for the movie to show here!)

The Graveyard Book is not exactly a horror story, even though it’s about a boy whose family got killed by a man named Jack. The baby (later named Nobody Owens ) escaped the knife of the man named Jack because he crawled out onto the street and came to the graveyard where the man Jack followed him there by his smell (Jack has a keen sense of smell, but anyway baby poop smells aren’t hard to miss).

Thanks to the protector of the graveyard, Silas (a being who looks human but isn’t dead or alive), who hypnotized Jack to make him go away, Nobody or Bod got to live for the next fifteen years of his life with ‘freedom of the graveyard’ which technically meant that like Silas he could walk ”in between.” Mr. and Mrs. Owens adopted him, even though they were ghosts, and raised him like their own son. The cool thing when you are given the freedom of the graveyard is that you can acquire special powers and you can also talk to the dead and they can talk to you. And if you are wondering how Bod got his food: Silas (his guardian) brings it to him in little packets at convenience stores. He learned a few things, thanks to Silas and to some ghosts who were teachers when they were alive. But when Bod got older, he needed to know more so he “borrowed” Robinson Crusoe from a dead painter’s apprentice and got punched by the boy’s ghost (the dead can touch him). He also got into a little trouble when he slipped out once for a while into the outside world, but he learned little lessons from his adventures. He got punished by his parents, who were always worried that Jack will come back.

Before the book ends, Jack tried to kill Bod again, but failed thanks to Bod’s knowledge of how the graveyard works and the many secrets hidden underground from ages and ages before, like the Sleer (some sort of magical three-headed snake that lost its master). I like reading it again when I can.



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