Author Liv Rancourt is my guest today on YAmondAY! She lives in Seattle: we do have many authors here! I think it’s the rain and the good coffee—both very conducive to keep locked up and writing : )
Liv came up with a brilliant concept for her post: multiple perspectives on the same book, from readers of different ages. Enjoy!
A while ago I was quite thrilled to have Fabio Bueno invite me to participate in his YAmondAY blog series. His request was for a review of 3-5 young adult novels, however since that’s not really my genre, I asked if it would be okay to have three reviews of the same YA book. I happen to have a couple in-house YA readers, and figured there must be at least one book that all of us have read.
There were a couple, actually, but the one we chose to review was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I love Mr. Gaiman’s work, really and truly, and both kids had positive things to say about this one. Well, I don’t want to give anything away, so here are the reviews:
Spoiler alert! Sorry…
Scruffy (12 years old; Brony; favorite sports football and basketball, but only if he’s playing)
People say that all art is stolen. That is true, in that all paintings of people steal the human form. The Graveyard Book steals archetypes from other stories, but they feel…unfamiliar. That actually isn’t the best word to describe it. They feel…better. I don’t know. There’s probably a word in German for it.
One of the best examples I can find of this story’s ______ (German Word) is the character The Sleer. You got your ancient evil denizen guarding a tomb of untold riches blah blah blah. You better hope your protagonist can outrun that giant boulder. But in The Graveyard Book, the evil snake/boulder (The Sleer) won’t hurt you if you aren’t afraid of it, and in the end it turned out to be an invaluable accomplice.
So, in conclusion, The Graveyard Book was so good because it was better. BEST CONCLUSION EVER.
He means it was good because it found a new slant on old ideas. I think 😉
Petunia (14 years old; Pegasister; talented artist and soon a high school freshman)
Four or five years ago, I read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
Up until today, I remembered nothing about it besides one line in Ch. 7, pg 228:
He wore grey, although she could not have described his clothes.
I have absolutely no idea why that line stuck with me. It would show up in my mind, quite randomly, while I’d go about my day-to-day activities; standing in line for lunch at school, doodling a skull on my language arts homework, or pouring myself a cup of coffee in the morning (back when I was going through my coffee phase last summer – I gave it up last October for fear it was stunting my growth). I really can’t explain why, maybe it was because back then, when I was reading it, I thought it very odd that Scarlett wouldn’t remember anything about his clothes. Clothes are the first thing I see when I meet a person! Which is a very shallow thing to say, I know, but cut me some slack, I’m a teenage girl.
But I guess I’m different from most teenage girls I know in that I read the entire Graveyard Book today. This is probably why I don’t read books much anymore; when I find a good one, I just eat it all up in a couple hours until there’s nothing left. I can’t even help myself, I give myself no time to savor it. Sad, really.
But, uhh, moving on. The book! Yes. One thing I like about it is that it’s called The Graveyard Book. It’s a very simple yet powerful title that lets the reader know exactly what this book is going to be, and where it’s going to take you. The title, in my opinion, actually gives more information on what type of book it’s going to be than the actual cover.
I like how quietly morbid this book is. Things are explained in an exact, artful way, with only a hint of menace at the scariest times. I didn’t get scared reading this book because Bod never exactly got scared; this was his world, and he knew how to live in it. Well, except for when he got captured by the Ghouls, but even then he only felt the fear that a child feels; which is still fear, but it has a sort of accepting quality to it, I guess, a rolling-with-it quality. That’s another thing I liked about this book; how most of it is told from Bod’s childish point of view. I like how he just grows up with the ghosts and thinks everything about the paranormal world is so normal. I kind of wish real life would work like that.
But this book ends a little sadly. Scarlett forgets about him and Bod has to go off and live on his own now, leaving his graveyard home behind forever. But isn’t that what growing up is, leaving things with a little sadness but great hope for the future? I’m not grown-up yet, but I think so.
This book really makes me want to go read more of Neil Gaiman’s stuff. Or perhaps draw a bunch of swirly misty ghost-people. Whichever I go off and do now, I want you to know I really do like this book. It’s…beautiful. I’m happy I read it.
Liv (over 14 years old; nurse practitioner, writer – although I still feel like a pretender)
I made the mistake of reading the kids’ reviews before writing this, and it’s hard not to let them influence what I’ve got to say. I agree with the point my son makes, although I’d phrase things a little differently. One of the best things about The Graveyard Book is how Mr. Gaiman takes familiar elements and reconfigures them in unexpected ways. I once read a quote from Mr. Gaiman where he said that a writer should look for the best source material they can find and begin the work from there. He’s clearly done this, and it’s the combination of the familiar with the surprising that makes this book so much fun.
Another thing I really appreciated about the book was its story structure, and the seamless way it flows through the first fourteen years of Bod’s life. The transitions are beautiful, as one chapter ends and another begins. The character Bod matures and is allowed to respond in a more adult way, but there’s never a hiccup or a feeling that he’s behaving out of character. My daughter touched on this in her comments; Bod accepts his reality and when he leaves the graveyard, he has the tools he needs for the next stage of his journey.
As a writer, the thing I found most fascinating was the use of third person omniscient point of view. Because I read – and write – mostly paranormal, romance, and urban fantasy, I’m much more familiar with first person or tight third person POV, but neither of those would have worked for this story. The narrator is a consistent presence whose careful choice of details and impressions leaves out as much as he tells. Those gaps – Silas is a vampire, right? – add to the fun and intrigue, and what he chooses to reveal, like Scarlett’s reaction after Bod gets rid of the last Jack, plays with our expectations and enriches the narrative. I can see myself re-reading this book, just to study the way it’s put together.
So there are three different recommendations for The Graveyard Book. Thanks again, Fabio, for having us as guests on your blog, and for giving me a reason to “encourage” the kids to warm up for school by doing something constructive.
Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website & blog (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).
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