So I started Neil Gaiman's Masterclass, wishing to improve my writing and to get a piece of mind from a professional. Now this post is a book review, so I will not be analyzing the class itself, but if you guys want me to, then leave a comment. Anyhow, in his class, he talks about his characters, how he designs them, how their needs and wants collide and how you build a character. Really what impressed me was the way he talks in his lectures, it is mesmerizing, and how he sees things when he writes about them.
One of the books discussed in the lecture was The Graveyard Book. Previously I have only have read the Good Omens, and this was back when it came out and I was selected as an ARC reviewer. Since then I was overwhelmed by the number of books in existence and by staggering publishing amounts that grow yearly. Basically I knew Gaiman existed, but did not give much attention as to what was published by him. Warning minor spoilers!
During his lecture, he pulls out his book, which obviously looks like a children's book, and I almost rolled my eyes at this. Then he started reading and explaining why did he write that, what he did there and so on. It was such an obvious thing on the "wants and needs" and one character getting something that they want, and how others don't. As a reader one simply glides over these things, they just seem more real when they are so well written, it feels organic, but as an author, one feels simply invigorated when all things click. When this realization comes.
So I bought the book.
The thing was blue, with a dust jacket. I carefully tucked the jacket away, keeping the fragile thing safe, and opened to a familiar first chapter that Gaiman analyzed in his lecture. The abundance of characters the world of the Graveyard is simply astounding, and one feels welcomed as one of the ghosts and allowed the reader to wander with little Bod and the rest.
The setting of the book is The Graveyard. Gaiman takes us here and there on short trips to the world of humans, but Graveyard is our home. During each chapter, we read the names of people long gone, and I have a suspicion that Gaiman possibly used the real engraving from the gravestones to commemorate them in his book. Although a seemingly monotonous place, Graveyard is full of its surprises. All is always as it was at the graveyard, but one only needs to ask a question to find history and soul of this seeming teeming with life place.
The man Jack
The man Jack, or rather men Jack were the most startling and mysterious of the characters. They simply exist as a mystery and with an unknown purpose. We do know that they are villains, and one can draw parallel between them and maybe evil corporations, the spies, or whatnot. Still one never truly knows what they are.
I loved this character. And beetroot is yummy! She is this stern lady, with a strong drive to help Bod. I liked her complexity through her small roles, they were important. One can never simply dismiss people in their life. Lupescu is one of those teachers that you ignored, but then one day realized that they have a life outside of your time and how they are actually using this small time to help you. The teacher that becomes a an alive human being not just a 45-minute mannequin.
Nobody (Bod) Owens
Although he is the main character, I placed him lower down the food chain, simply because other characters were much more fun for me than him. So Bod is an orphan who lives at the Graveyard of ours. We go through his life living there, the lessons he learns and mistakes that he makes. Possibly the most outstanding of his qualities was to do what was right when it was needed. His ability to learn through experience also resonated quite a bit with me.
One of the more mysterious characters, as we have all of him to ourselves, but never truly. He is there, but not fully. This is the best way I can describe the guardian of Bod. He is helpful, he protects, he provides, but always not fully there. Not dead, nor alive.
Oh my goodness, THE GHOULS. I am a supernatural fan, so seeing the word ghouls gave me a little start! Of course, Gaiman described them as miniature people about the size of, I believe, a seven or eight-year-old. Things that do not remember, things that always hunger, they live in Ghoulheim, but they never create, they only scavenge. I really liked a chapter with them, as they were simply adorable!
It is always difficult to find a plot and meaning in a very good book, there is always simply soo much to dig up. One can always find his meaning, but another person will simply find the one that fit them the most. I guess this is why literary critics exist. This book focused on everything:
Good vs. Evil
Being a hero
Learning and life lessons
This book was simply packed with themes and plots. And my list is in no way a complete one. If you were to read this book, I would want for you to find the lessons that simply were written for you and not look for mine.
I wish that I would've read this book when I was younger, maybe 8 or 12. I see this book as I see The Hobbit, its a journey to adulthood. One must read this book when they are young to learn common themes and then once more as an adult to grasp the text in its entirety. It is a beautifully and thoughtfully written book, with so much backbone to it. In my house, it is an instant classic and if I ever have kids, it will be a must-read.
If there is a book that you want me to review, feel free to submit a review request on About Regina Page. Cheers, Regina Hunter