My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So quick story before I dive into this review.
I was going into ninth grade, about five years ago now, and this was on my Summer Reading List. I picked it up, but the story wasn't grabbing me right away (I was very impatient back then, what can I say!) so I ended up putting it down and selecting another book.
Needless to say, school has once again demanded I read this book, and I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at having been so captivated by it. I mean, it didn't take me long to read it, and the burning questions I had kept me hooked. This is a wonderfully magical tale of murder, revenge, and what it means to live and die, and I really loved the atmosphere of the book, how it still managed to be lighthearted while delivering an important message regarding life, what a family can be, and the importance of having people who care about you.
I particularly loved the main antagonist of this novel. The man Jack really stunned me. I'll explain why. When I was a kid (around 13-14, maybe a little older) I used to write manuscripts and for a trilogy I was writing I dreamed up a man very similar to Jack. I was struck by how similar their goals were, why they were after what they were after, and what each character ended up being in the end.
Despite the similarities between the two, however, I have absolutely no doubt that Gaiman did it 1,000% better than I did. I was blown away by the atmosphere of it all, how it all really seemed so frightening!
The interlude that was added was a nice touch. As much as I loved seeing Bod explore the world of the graveyard and eventually the world around him, I like how Gaiman put Jack in there as if to say, "I haven't forgotten about him - he'll be back."
I remember reading about Scarlett interacting with the man in the graveyard, and the way it was handled, the way you could sense that something was wrong. My heart was in my mouth throughout the entire scene, and it was easily the most powerful part of the book (and probably my favorite part, to be honest).
As far as other characters, I think my favorite would have to be Silas. He was just so kind and caring to Bod, even though they both had their character flaws. I did enjoy how both Bod and Silas actually talked things out after an accident they went through. It showed that they were both willing to learn from their mistakes and grow from the experience.
I know I've been singing the book praises so far, but I do need to point out the few (very few!) shortcomings I saw.
First of all, and this nagged at me the entire book, what is Bod's real first name? It was nice to learn his last name and a little about his family before the graveyard, but I wish Bod had found that out. It just left things a little too vague for me in terms of Bod's character, even if there wasn't much to know anyway.
Second, I didn't love the way Scarlett handled the whole situation after the fact. I understand she was probably traumatized to a degree, but I don't think it was right of her to completely take it all out on Bod. And her negative response led to their friendship being over, and it just didn't seem right to me. I feel like she needed better closure. Maybe seeing Bod at some point in the future and there being some semblance of forgiveness or healing from the situation. I feel like it was just scrubbed, and I would rather have seen her work through how she felt about everything.
But, in the end, I was pleasantly surprised with this story. It showed heart, darkness, and hope in this spooky but still hopeful little book that I'm sure I'll want to revisit.
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