By Catherine Conner
Currently, most of the entertainment world is focusing on books adapted to movies with up-and-coming attractions like “Twilight” this winter and Alan Moore’s “The Watchmen” next spring. After the final installment of books in the “Harry Potter” line in July 2007, fans are anxiously anticipating the release of the sixth and seventh films. This leaves everyone looking towards the children’s and teen’s sections of bookstores for “the next big hit” to follow the success of Potter and “Twilight”.
One such author of children and adult fantasy, Neil Gaiman, recently published his newest work, “The Graveyard Book” to sit alongside his other works, “Stardust” and “American Gods”. For those of you who are not familiar with Gaiman, he wrote the book and comic book versions of the movie “Stardust” featuring Ben Barnes as the love-struck Tristan Thorn who travels to Faerie to retrieve a fallen star (Claire Danes) to win the heart of the snobbish Victoria (Sienna Miller.)
Gaiman’s “Graveyard Book” tells an entirely different tale that borders on similarity to Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”. In the beginning of the novel, a man named Jack murders a little boy’s family when he is just a toddler. Miraculously, the boy escapes to find himself in a graveyard, where he captures the attention of the ghosts who inhabit the graveyard. After much debate, the ghosts decide to let the Owens kindly family of ghosts raise the toddler, whom they affectionately name Nobody. The vampire Silas also appoints himself the guardian of Nobody as he is the only one who can leave the graveyard and retrieve food. The other ghosts must remain by their graves and are not concerned with things like eating. The story follows Nobody from baby to adolescent childhood with the looming fact that Jack still has not given up his hunt of the boy.
While the premise of the tale is not a new one, it is certainly a different spin on the traditional “raised by the other” motif. When reading Gaiman you can definitely count on his ability to tell a story in his own way with plenty of humor to round it out. That being said, “The Graveyard Book” is surprisingly funny. For example, when Silas the vampire must fetch Nobody’s first meal, he retrieves a banana. Mrs. Owens the ghost is so old that she cannot believe that a banana is real or that it is edible, despite the fact that Nobody clearly eats it in front of her.
Another interesting thing to note about Gaiman is that he takes an intense interest in his fans. For “The Graveyard Book,” he traveled to different cities on a book tour this October. While this is not out of the ordinary, Gaiman decided to take a video of himself reading the entire book, with one chapter per city. He then posted it on his daily blog, where he writes about his life and answers questions from fans, so that anyone could read the book without buying it.
Needless to say, Gaiman continues to find ways to write amazing stories and reach his fans in new ways. In fact, if you want to check out the book but you’re low on cash, listen to it here: www.mousecircus.com or feel free to check out his blog at www.neilgaiman.com. It tends to be amusing and full of information about publishing, the movie industry and full of questions from fans. If you have the time and the money, however, take a look at Neil Gaiman’s ” The Graveyard Book.” Or, check out “American Gods” or “Fragile Things” from the campus library to get a taste of his work. I know you’ll enjoy it