Whelp, I’ve finally pulled the trigger and started a book review blog like all my fans have been demanding for years. (And by all my fans, I mean my mom and my friend Cat.)
I’ve never been the best at keeping things like journals updated, so I’ve been hesitant to start any sort of blog, but you know what? I like reading and I like writing, and I like when people read what I write. So, why not give it a go?
My name is Amber. I am an employee of a shall-not-be-named-because-the-Hatch-Act-prevents-me-from-even-accidentally-using-my-position-for-profit government agency. I’ll just say that we’re like one of the only popular government agencies, we manage public lands, and our employees move around a lot. It’s kind of point of pride to me that I have a library card in half the states in the United States and some of the territories. I also have a habit of wracking up fines in all those libraries, but we don’t need to talk about that. Just…if you see a wanted poster featuring a curly-haired redhead in your public library, it might be me.
I’m much better about this as a “grown-up,” I swear. I’m trying to make amends for my wayward youth as a library outlaw. So librarians in Clarion, Pennsylvania; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Farmington, New Mexico: call me!
Ahem. I’ve said too much. Or at least too much about a subject that is not the point of this blog.
Fair warning: that may happen a lot actually. I’m a big fan of tangentially-related sidetracks. They’re usually humorous, though, so you’ll probably enjoy them. And dang it, this is MY blog. If I can’t spew my word vomit on the internet, where can I?
Huh. This blog software wants me to insert a quote. So here’s a good one I saw recently:
Dinosaurs didn’t read. Look what happened to them. –Random Dude in the bar’s t-shirt
Okay, enough stalling. Without (much) further ado, my first book review!
A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine gave me Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book to read.
I have a hit or miss relationship with Gaiman, so I put it off for a while. Last night around 7 pm, I finally picked it up, thinking I’d read a couple of chapters before bed.
Fast forward to 11 pm and me finishing the book and then just staring at nothing.
I’ve had a day to process now and I’m going to attempt coherency in this review. First of all, Neil Gaiman and I go ’round and ’round. I swear, I either all caps LOVE his books or I all caps HATE THEM. I have no idea why this is, but I either devour his books in one sitting or I can barely finish them. I loved American Gods. Loved it. And I loved The Graveyard Book. Maybe it has something to do with the history/mythology easter eggs in these two books? I don’t know.
Anyway, I was slightly skeptical about The Graveyard Book, but within five paragraphs I was HOOKED.
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.
The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.
The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and the man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of nighttime mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door.
The man Jack paused on the landing. With his left hand he pulled a large white handkerchief from the pocket of his black coat, and with it he wiped off the knife and his gloved right hand which had been holding it; then he put the handkerchief away. The hunt was almost over. He had left the woman in her bed, the man on the bedroom floor, the older child in her brightly colored bedroom, surrounded by toys and half-finished models. That only left the little one, a baby barely a toddler, to take care of. One more and his task would be done.
I mean…damn. What an open.
This is a children’s book. I’ve seen a lot of reviews that are all “OMG, this is so dark for a children’s book. Um…no? It’s not? Have you read a single fairy tale? I’m talking OG fairytales. The Little Mermaid before Disney got a hold of it. Hansel and Gretel, Brothers Grimm style. Sure, the knife-wielding baby killer is dark. BUT SO IS A CHILDREN-EATING WITCH. Those suckers were terrifying. And children’s literature is the better for these tales, of which I am official including The Graveyard Book.
And the thing is…yes, it’s dark, but it’s also hopeful and wonderful. A child raised by the ghosts of a thousand years worth of history? Fantastic. Granted, I’m a huge history nerd, but I would kill (ha) to chat with the ghost of a Roman soldier or a Victorian spinster. The things you could learn!
The best part of this book is the portrayal of Bod. Too often children in books, even children’s books, are annoying. But not Bod. Even when he’s doing stupid things, you don’t get mad at him. He’s a kid, and he makes stupid kid mistakes, but they never made me want to shake him by the shoulders and scream at his idiocy. I loved him. His character was amazing. And as someone who 80% of the time can’t stand the characterization of children in books or movie or tv shows, that simple statement goes a long way towards recommending this book.