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You’re Nobody till Dead Bodies Love You

Erin reviews Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and wants Nobody to be her friend.

You’re Nobody till Dead Bodies Love You

BOOK REPORT for The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 1
Talky Talk: A Graveyard Smash!
Bonus Factors: Ghouls, Graveyards, Grown Ups
Relationship Status: Hooking Up with the Best Man at Your Best Friend's Wedding

The Deal:

(Okay, before I go any further, YES, I realize that this is a children's book. But, frankly, I do not care. Plus there are tons of kids running around who act like young adults. And there are plenty of adults running around acting like children. It's called Congress; you can watch them every day on C-Span!)

Nobody Owens is only a toddler when his entire family is murdered by a stranger named Jack. Nobody (Bod for short) manages to escape by toddling out the house, up the hill and into an old graveyard. There, he's adopted by the residents of the graveyard - the ghostly remains of gentlemen and ladies, butchers and teachers, the gentry and the working class.

Bod grows up in the graveyard, learning from his ghostly parents, Mr and Mrs Owens, playing with children who are eternally 8 years old, and being guided by his protector, Silas, who fights to keep Nobody safe from The Stranger Named Jack.

But nothing lasts forever, including the peace and safety of the graveyard. Nobody must venture out into the world, learn his own way, and find out how to best The Stranger Named Jack.

Y'all, this book is AWESOME. The illustrations are so rich and detailed, and the story is clever and lovely, without being cloying or shallow.

The only problem? It ended too soon! I guess that's what happens with children's books. But that's okay, because I have a kid! So I can make her read it all the time!

BFF Charm: Yay!

I love Bod to bits and pieces! Not, like, decaying bits and pieces, but metaphorical ones. He navigates his graveyard home with grace and wit, and is open to learning from all his dead - or otherwise partly living - foster relatives and friends.

He's also a fighter, who stands up for friends, strangers, and errant witches. And even when he's whining about the adults in his life - well, he's got a point! Cause as much as I love Silas and the others, they aren't so much with the sharing of info!

I would be thrilled to have Nobody Owens in my corner, or in my cemetery plot.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

Okay, so this is a CHILDREN'S book, so not so much with the swoony times. But! Swoonworthy hope comes in the form of little Scarlett, who becomes Bod's first human friend. Scarlett is totally fierce and kickass and not afraid of playing in the graveyard, and I want her to be my BFF too!

Talky Talk: A Graveyard Smash!

Bod's graveyard home was made into a nature reserve a century or two ago, so all its inhabitants are ooooold. Not "so old they're dead;" rather, they're so dead they're old. Bod's parents, the Owens, died sometime in the 18th century, and all of their neighbors are equally as old, if not older. So poor Bod is taught English by someone who thinks Englishe is stille spelt lyke thisse. And he learns science from folks who've never even heard of Darwin. (That doesn't make him that different from kids in the Texas school system. Hey-o!)

So much of the dialogue in The Graveyard Book is peppered with olde-tymey phrases, but in such a fun, authentic way that readers will celebrate it, rather than bemoan it.

Bonus Factor: Ghouls

Oh man, the ghouls!! So ghouls are little creatures that you really really shouldn't hang out with, okay? Because you may think they're hilarious, what with their impersonation of US Presidents, landed gentry and famous Emperors, but they are not messing around, okay! They will cut you! (right before consuming the flesh off your bones)

Bonus Factor: Graveyards

Not-so-secret admission: I love graveyards. Not in a goth, let's pledge our love andthen cut ourselves, type of way (okay, maybe a little like that way! old 14-yr-old habits die hard!), but I just find them so peaceful and lovely. All that history, and, if you think about it, a whole lot of love, all in a tiny plot of land. I mean, where else can you find monuments to loved ones, carefully and lovingly attended, by the living they left behind? Some of my most peaceful moments have happened in graveyards: carefully picking my way over brambles to reach the crumbling stones of great-great-grandparents; reading imaginative epitaphs of strangers; laying my hand over a tombstone in a cemetery in Edinburgh, wondering how many have done so before me, and how many will do so after.

My uncle is a preacher, and for the most part, the parsonages he has lived in have been near or directly across from the church cemetery. My favorite thing to do when I would visit him as a child was to spend time in the graveyard, wondering about the lives of the people laid to rest there.

Bonus Factor: Grown Ups

Okay, hear me out, but a lot of times in YA (and children) lit, the grown ups sort of, well, suck salty balls. They're so mean and they never understand me the protagonist. I hate them! slams door

But almost all the grown ups in The Graveyard Book - and lo, there are many - are totally awesome. Especially Silas, Ms. Lepascu, Liza, and Mrs Owens. Oh, and Scarlett's mom! I just love them all so much! I want to be their BFFs too!

Casting Call:

Thomas Sangster as Bod

I don't know any young English teenagers!! So I picked Sam from Love, Actually. Hey, if he can learn to play drums for that movie, surely he can hang around in graveyards for this movie. Plus, since he's the nephew of Hugh Grant, he's got any shuffling or bumbling running through the blood.

Richard Armitage as Silas

Hey, just cause this is a kid's book doesn't mean I can't have some fun! I wonder if Silas could be slightly retconned to wear a lot of leather.

Georgie Henley as Scarlett

Look, it's little Lucy Penseive! Lucy Penseive looks like the type of girl who would play in a graveyard.

Helena Bonham Carter as Ms. Lepascu

Okay, even though I am casting HBC I am IN NO WAY condoning that this movie be made by Tim Burton! Because I am tired of his malarky.

Relationship Status: Hooking Up with the Best Man at Your Best Friend's Wedding

You know what it's like. We all know what it's like. Your best friend keeps going on and on about This Guy, her boyfriend's best friend; This Guy you just have to meet. "Someday," you say, laughing just a little bit. But plans fall through - you're dating someone else while he's free; he's off Finding Himself during the senior year when you were busy doing IT with everything that moved. Things just never worked out. Even though your friend kept saying, the whole time, "oh, This Guy! You'll love This Guy! Why are you bothering with all these other guys?" It even gets to the point where you purposely ask after This Guy: "How's he doing? Been up to anything lately? I heard he got engaged to Amanda Palmer. That's cool." But eventually you start resenting This Guy, just a little bit, because if he's sooo perfect, then why hasn't he found a way to break down your barriers yet, hmm? Why hasn't he reached out to you?

But then your friend gets married, which means you and This Guy are members of the wedding party. All day, you glance at him out of the side of your eye, marveling at how he looks in his suit. Still. You are a Grown Up. You will not be swayed by how good This Guy looks in a suit. Nor will you just roll over in submission, just because everyone tells you how amazing This Guy is. Then, like magic, This Guy taps you on the shoulder during the reception and asks you to dance. What follows over the next few hours is a whirlwind romance, full of passion, laughter and tears. You are breathless, exhilerated, in love.

In the end, he walks away, because a guy like that just can't be tied down to one reader girl. But, finally, you realize just what everyone was talking about. And you wait, with baited breath, for the next time you can run into This Guy. Because even just a night's pleasure will be enough to last you for years.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
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