Posts Tagged With: YA

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Synopsis from B&N:

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . . Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

My thoughts:

It’s almost difficult to put into words exactly how good this book is. I don’t hesitate to say that I’m a Neil Gaiman fan – I believe he is one of the best storytellers of our generation, and I always have high expectations for his work. So when I say this novel exceeded my expectations, what I mean is that I’m not sure I have, even yet, realized exactly how brilliant it is.

Gaiman talks in his introduction about how much he owns to Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, and the parallels are easy to see – a real, live boy, raised apart from his family by creatures not like himself, figuring out which world he truly belongs in – Gaiman does this sort of thing in many of his novels, and I think it works particularly well here. His characters are interesting, a little creepy, and somewhat mysterious, and he always leaves the reader a little bit of room for their own imagination.

He also doesn’t force a “happily-ever-after” ending – I don’t want to give too much away, but he allows the natural progression of the story, even though it doesn’t end with happiness and joy, and the book is better for it. It is never a light, happy read – it does, after all, take place in a graveyard – but Gaiman’s humor keeps it from feeling like a downer. Bod does his share of silly, impulsive things, and there are beautiful moments, as well, that make reading the book a pleasure.

Each time I think about it, I remember something else I loved. This is a novel I will certainly read again, and I’m sure discover more to enjoy. I’m thrilled for the author that it won this year’s Newbery – I believe it deserves the praise.

Finished: 2/16/09
Source: my sister (Thanks, Carolynn!)
Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by: Elizabeth

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Oscar and the Lady in Pink – Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

‘My name is Oscar, I’m ten years old…They call me Egghead, I look about seven, I live in hospital because of my cancer and I’ve never written to you because I don’t even know if you exist,’ writes Oscar to God . . .

 

This is a small book about a young boy who is nearing the end of his life. He is in hospital and has a regular visitor who helps him express his feelings through conversations with God. However, although Oscar is writing to God, this is not a preachy book at all. Be prepared for a heart wrenching and remarkably poignant read.   I read it in one sitting but then promptly re-read it, which is something I rarely do. Oscar’s tale tells us to look to our hearts and live for the day, and is told so eloquently that even the most hardhearted reader will shed a tear over his story.

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An Open Vein by JM Warwick

Synopsis from Official Site:
Imagine being locked in a room alone. You have no food, and the only water to drink comes from a nearby tap. You’ve been told this will help you to bond and you believe it, because your father has told you this. He’s a doctor.

You find out everything you once thought was real and true, is a lie.

I will say from the outset that I think this book is rather outstanding. It’s dark and powerful, keeps you reading, and stays with you long after you put it down.

The story starts with John, a rather intelligent, yet protected sixteen year old, going to stay with his ‘uncle’ in New York for the summer. Kane is a close family friend, who John has looked up to all his life.

First Kane informs John that he is in fact his father, then he tells him that there have been threats against him, and he must stay in the apartment. From here, things spiral out of control, and take a very dark turn.

The author takes us through the confusion and fear that the teenage John is feeling, and slowly unwraps the true Kane – she makes you feel that you’re there with John, experiencing all that he does.

I was also impressed with the ending.. instead of the ‘Hollywood ending’ that would have been so easy, the darkness and confusion continues.

An impressive book, leaving me wanting more.

Reviewed by Michelle

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