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This review is from: The Graveyard Book (Paperback)
My first Neil Gaiman book, which I approached ready to be wowed, but sadly I thought it found wanting in several key areas. The overall conceit of an orphaned boy growing up outside the normal boundaries of society in a graveyard is an interesting and inventive re-imagining of the Jungle Book fable. The spectral cast of characters are ok at best, and the central character Nobody Owens is reasonably well drawn as an awkward, impetuous and netherworld adolescent. But what's really missing is any kind of narrative pace. Perhaps this is deliberate i.e. a device intended to echo the timeless and ethereal nature of the setting, but it doesn't do much to stimulate you to read on. There are some fairly plodding set-pieces which really struggle to push the story along. And if we are intended to be bursting with anticipation of the big reveal just why Nobody Owens' family are murdered and he is pursued by the Man Jack and his cohorts, then it falls sadly short. Gaiman's determination to use words, phrases and iconography that a teen reader may have to go and look up is admirable (good children's literature should be stretching), but this is never going to be a great book without a compelling storyline, and sadly the essence of the story, once you've stripped away the ethereal wrapper, is just too mundane to elevate it to that level.