If you read my recent post about audio books, you know that I mentioned some great places to find audio books, either to purchase or to borrow. One website that I mentioned, Audiobooks.com, is a subscription site that allows unlimited streaming of titles for the set monthly price of $24.95. You can try it out free for a week before you start your subscription. I’m doing a free trial right now, and I want to share my experience. Then, of course, I’ll share my review of The Graveyard Book read by the author, Neil Gaiman, himself. And if you are wondering whether or not an author should narrate his own audio book. Um, if said author is Neil Gaiman, the answer is an indisputable YES!
Let me start by saying that the generous folks at Audiobooks.com, as a thank you for mentioning them on my blog, are giving me a three month free trial. They did not ask me to do a write up of my experience. I’m just really digging the site after my first listen, so I wanted to share the experience with you.
Here’s how it works. You aren’t purchasing the books. You are subscribing to the site’s entire library, which is there for you whenever you want it. You don’t have to wait for a title to be available, and you are not limited to how many books you can listen to during any length of time. You just finish one book and move on to the next on your list!
It’s a streaming service that remembers your place in the book even when you switch between devices. I started The Graveyard Book on my computer when I first logged on, just to test it out. Once I was ready for a lengthy listen, I switched to my iPhone and used the Audiobooks.com mobile app. It started up where I left off on my computer. My iPhone tends to get a little heated, so when I wanted to give it a cool down, I switched to the iPad. Picked up right where I left off on the phone. That was pretty cool.
I found a lot of titles that I wanted to listen to. For my children’s literature class that is coming up in the fall, I have a list of children’s books I need to read, many falling into the middle grade novel category. All of the novels on my list (and then some) I was able to find in the Audiobooks.com library, including Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I guess you could say I’m enjoying the site so far! Now, let’s get to that book review. Shall we?
On Neil Gaiman’s website, he explains how he got the idea for a book about an orphaned boy raised by ghosts and other supernatural beings:
Twenty-three years ago, we lived in a little Sussex town in a tall house across the lane from a graveyard. We didn’t have a garden, and our 18-month-old son loved riding a tricycle. If he tried riding in the house he would have died because there were stairs everywhere, so every day I would take him down our precipitous stairs, and he would ride his little tricycle round and round the gravestones. As I watched him happily toddling I would think about how incredibly at home he looked. I thought that I could do something like ‘The Jungle Book’ with that same equation of boy, orphaned, growing up somewhere else, but I could do it in a graveyard. I had that idea when I was 24 years old. I sat down and tried writing it and thought, ‘This is a really good idea, and this isn’t very good writing. I’m not good enough for this yet, and I will put it off until I’m better.
I guess Gaiman got better because now we have The Graveyard Book, a wonderful, imaginative story of love, family, ghosts, ghouls, death, and life. Nobody Owens, or Bod for short, showed up in the graveyard when he was only a toddler. Awakened by a noise in the middle of the night, Bod toddled out of his bed, down the stairs, and out the door. His wandering and getting into and out of things was usually the bane of his parents’ existence, but on this night his abilities served him well because the noise Bod heard that night was the man Jack murdering his parents and sister. He intended to murder Bod too, but Bod escaped into the safety of the graveyard where Mr. and Mrs. Owens, ghosts who never had children of their own, adopted him. There is also Silas, who agrees to be Bod’s guardian. Silas is neither living nor dead but spends much of his time in the graveyard. See how long it takes you to figure out what Silas is. I love Gaiman’s subtlety here.
Bod grows up in the graveyard. Everyone there knows if he leaves, he will not be safe because the man Jack is still looking for him, still aiming to finish what he started. Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard, which means he can do what the dead can do. For one, he can see the dead whereas other living people cannot. He can see in the dark and fade, and he even learns to dream walk. Eventually, though, Bod has to go to school. He has to learn about life beyond the graveyard. And he has to deal with what waits for him beyond the graveyard walls, the man Jack.
What I loved:
Gaiman’s narration! Listen to a preview on Audiobooks.com. Is that not a magnificent voice? And Gaiman does every character exactly how I would imagine they’d sound…or maybe I imagine they’d sound like that because that’s how Gaiman does each voice, but it doesn’t matter because his narration so perfectly suited for this story.
I love the dark, the macabre, but that’s not all you get here. All the beings that one would normally fear are the most loving creatures we get to see in this story. It’s the humans, outside of Scarlett, that are the ones Bod has to fear. Gaiman offers a nice twist to our normal expectation of a book about ghosts.
What I Still Want (WARNING…SPOILERS HERE):
Answers. I loved this book but I didn’t want it to end because I wanted to know more. Who/what exactly were the Jacks? Is Bod something special that he was prophesied to be the downfall of the Jacks? How much did Silas and the Honor Guard know about Bod and his relationship to the Jacks? Did Silas choose to be Bod’s guardian out of the mere need to protect a toddler from a killer, or did he know who Bod was…who he was meant to be…all along and decide to protect him until it was time for him to face the Jacks? I almost feel like there could be a prequel–the story of Silas, Miss Lupescu, and the Jacks!
OK…SPOILERS ARE DONE…You can read now!
I really enjoyed this book. I think it would appeal to many young readers, male or female. It’s ok for adults to read it too. I did. I won’t tell anyone if you do too! Just read it quick because the movie is in development as we speak!