Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Graveyard Book Read-Along: PART III

This is the final discussion post of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book [2008] Read-Along hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings as part of the fall R.I.P. VII reading event.

The Graveyard Book is a middle grade book about a young boy named Nobody 'Bod' Owens who is being raised by the ghosts who live in a graveyard after his parents and sister were brutally murdered in their home. The loving Mr. and Mrs. Owens are Bod's adoptive ghost parents and Silas, who is neither living nor dead, is Bod's guardian. Each chapter of book is a short tale of its own, showing important experiences in Bod's life that shape him into the young man he is becoming.

CAUTION: This is a read-along discussion, so expect some spoilers in the post and comments. Please read at your own risk!

Chapter Seven: Every Man Jack 
As suggested by the title of this chapter, this is the part of the story when Nobody Owens and the man named Jack finally come face to face after all these years since Jack murdered Bod's first family.

Bod's guardian Silas has been away for several weeks, much longer than he's ever been gone before which has everyone in the graveyard both concerned and annoyed. Bod is asking questions about the man who killed his family and it's clear he is angry and resentful towards this man who not only murdered his family but whose very existence has essentially imprisoned Bod to a life in the graveyard. As content that Bod is to live among his family of ghosts in the graveyard, he's getting restless being confined to the graveyard and longs to go out among the living.

The young girl named Scarlett whom Jack befriended years ago in the graveyard has moved back to the area. One day she takes the wrong bus home and finds herself at the gates of Bod's graveyard. Now young teens, Scarlett and Jack rekindle their friendship and are soon embroiled in a deceptive and nefarious plot involving the man named Jack. Fueled by his bitter anger at the men named Jack and through his fierce determination, bravery and resourcefulness, Bod overcomes his enemies once and for all. This battle against the Jacks has not come without a price, however, and the ending is a little bittersweet.

Chapter Eight: Leavings and Partings
In this final chapter, Bod prepares to leave the graveyard to live in the world of living. There are little telling signs indicating that Bod has outgrown his life in the graveyard, such as not being able to see as well in the dark anymore. Clearly the time has come for Nobody Owens to move on. He reminisces with his spirit friends about his life in the graveyard and has also learns more information regarding the Honour Guard and the group of men known as the Jacks of all Trades from Silas. Silas doesn't reveal too much, but it is enough for Bod for he knows he is safe in the world and that he may just see Silas again in the future. Bod says his final goodbyes and leaves the graveyard and starts his new life.

Despite The Graveyard Book's rather grim beginning involving the gruesome murders of an innocent family, the story is in actuality a lovely, albeit bittersweet, coming of age story of the smart and kind, young Nobody Owens. Bod has spent his young life treading the line between the worlds of the living and the dead. A life very different from that of a typical human boy, yet Bod has grown up to be a thoughtful, brave and generous soul who will most definitely live a good life among the living.

Thanks to Carl for hosting yet another great read-along! I can't wait to do another one.


  1. It is so bittersweet, isn't it? But lovely indeed. It is such a special book, all the more because Gaiman takes something completely unexpected: the dead, a graveyard, monsters and uses it to tell a very universal story which we all can relate to. I just love it. And more than that I love that we got to experience this as a group. It was a lot of fun to be riding around listening to this and knowing that others were listening to it or reading it all over the place. Such a cool thing to be able to get together in this manner.

    Thank you so much for experiencing it along with us. I do appreciate it and hope you had as great a time as I did. Not sure what my next group read will be, but I look forward to it all the same.

  2. Carl, I think Gaiman has a gift of writing a story that is dark, unexpected and a bit frightening and yet--like you said-- tell it in such a universally appealing way. As if his stories are completely natural and ordinary! Really good stuff. Thanks again! :)

  3. Even his more complicated stories, like American Gods, have a great deal of universal appeal because of the presence of story elements that we can all relate to. I think that is one of the things that makes good fantasy and science fiction accessible to even non-fans, if they choose to give it a try.

    1. I have American Gods on my to-read list! I'll get to it at some point.

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed this favorite of mine. I love Gaiman's balance of scary, sadness, friendship, and coming to life in this book. I like how Bod owns his name, Nobody Owens, by the end of the book.

    1. Ah, I'm such a dunce. I didn't catch the importance of the name Owens until you said "owning" his name. That is a great little pun that Gaiman has inserted--and so meaningful, too.

  5. nrlymrtl, I, too, love the way Gaiman so effortlessly balances the dark and scary with a personal coming of age story. Bod owning his name at the end was very satisfying to read!

    Deb Atwood, I almost missed the "owns" and "Owens" connection, too!

  6. Love the discussion in the comments here! The familiar themes in the very strange setting is definitely a wonderful feature of the book.

    Owns and Owens! Ha, so didn't think of that...

  7. Cheryl I agree! Thanks to Carl, nrlymrtl and Deb, anyway. ;)

    It's interesting that I started out reading The Graveyard Book thinking it was extremely grim if not morbid and wondered at its appropriateness for middle grade kids and then before I knew it, I was at home and comfortable with Bod and his situation living in the graveyard with ghosts as parents and a [likely] vampire as his guardian. All of a sudden everyone on the outside were the ones who didn't quite fit in.


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