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Teen Book Club: Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”

Teen Book Club: Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book"

October's Teen Book Club will discuss "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman. Check out our Teen staff's reviews of the book and the graphic adaptation.

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Hannah Kiger

Spooky season is upon us again. As the nights get colder and the wisps of autumn settle into our bones, there’s no better way to get into that spooky mindset than a warm beverage, fall snacks, a laugh with friends, and a chilling tale from the dark prince of fiction himself, Neil Gaiman.

We can promise all of these things for October’s Teen Book Club, where we’ll discuss Gaiman’s novel The Graveyard Book. Teen Book Club is for ages 12-18, and it meets on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. in the Library’s Jones Meeting Center.

Registration is required. Sign up today, because the first 10 participants to register get a free copy of the book to keep!

Our Teen Services staff recently shared what haunts them about The Graveyard Book, and why they chose it as October’s Teen Book Club read.

Review by Kip Polmanteer, Teen Librarian

In typical Gaiman fashion, The Graveyard Book is filled with chilling twists, haunting scenarios, and more than a dash of British wit, making it a perfect choice for this time of year.

The Graveyard Book Cover 1
October’s Teen Book Club title: Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book

We begin with murder, but death is only the beginning. The Graveyard Book, while set in a cemetery with a cast of ghoulish and ghostly characters, is, in fact, a celebration of life. Nobody Owens, lovingly called Bod, is the only body left truly living in the graveyard on the hill. The sole survivor of a murderous plot, he is taken in by the inhabitants of the graveyard and taught to walk the line between life and death.

What haunts me about The Graveyard Book is not the ghosts, cryptids, murder, or conspiracies, but the ease with which the reader is thrown into the truths of the living, both good and bad. From what it means to be alive, to how dark the human spirit can be, readers should prepare to feel it all.

This story takes a critical look at family, especially adoption and those who become our friends and loved ones over time, and it does not spare any emotion. (Okay, yes, the murderous plots and terrifying ghouls are also pretty haunting, but Neil Gaiman can do both.)

The Graveyard Book, complete with occasional illustrations that illicit the bone-chilling vibes we tend to crave during this season, is a natural choice for your October reading list. Gaiman gives us plenty of haunting scenes to fulfill our spooky needs, but he ultimately wraps things up in a cozy ending, filled with love and intention, that gives hope for the seasons to come.

Review by Claire Harlock, Teen Services Clerk

Most books do not have pictures; readers absorb the words of a storyteller and imagine how that story might appear. But The Graveyard Book is one of those rare books that has been adapted into a graphic novel. P. Craig Russell’s graphic adaptation of The Graveyard Book gives readers the gift of bringing the story to visual life through its haunting imagery.

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Cover
P. Craig Russell’s graphic adaptation of The Graveyard Book.

From their stark opening panels, The Graveyard Book graphic novels expand on Gaiman’s original text to tell an uplifting story about a boy named Nobody Owens (Bod for short) who searches for his identity through a swirl of supernatural adventures. Russell and a team of renowned artists conjure images that amplify Gaiman’s witty dialogue with richly stylized images.

Themes of fate, family, and community abound in The Graveyard Book. We first meet Bod as an orphaned toddler, raised in a graveyard by a family of ghosts and an otherworldly guardian named Silas. As he explores his surroundings and learns from the various graveyard residents, Bod discovers the complex layers and rituals of society.

The panel in The Graveyard Book graphic novel that most haunts me is Russell’s visual interpretation of the Danse Macabre. His imagery calls to life the complex, yet harmonious celebration of the living and the dead. In the panel, the Danse Macabre is summed up in poetic verse: “One to leave, and one to stay, and all to dance at the Macabray.”

The Graveyard Book asks its readers to consider big questions, such as: How far can memory stretch? How do we remember and revere our ancestors? What traditions do we honor or follow? What are our cultural rituals? Russell’s graphic interpretation of the story aids in the exploration of these questions.

Check out our calendar of teen events to find more upcoming opportunities. Follow Johnson City Public Library on Facebook and Instagram to get updates about Library programs, collections, and services.

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