This review was made possible by Avalon.ph which is auctioning a signed ARC copy, half of the proceeds of which goes to a scholarship program.
While I did enjoy most of Gaiman's novels, his last book, Anansi Boys, in my opinion wasn't the best of the bunch. When I started reading The Graveyard Book however, any lingering disappointments were dispelled as this is Gaiman in top form. His language is simple, compelling, and has that particular charm of being vague and short but says it all, as if everyone was familiar with its context. His characters are complex and interesting, from the adopted family of our protagonist to his enigmatic enemies. One impressive technique is how Gaiman never explicitly mentions what kind of creature the hero's guardian--Silas--is yet it is apparent to readers thanks to context clues and dialogue. The antagonists, while two-dimensional, are given that extra layer near the end of the book which can probably be best described as the book's "Gaiman-ish" moment.
The structure of the book is also to be lauded. There are eight chapters, each representing a phase in our hero's life. Each chapter save for one (it's a foreshadowing chapter) stands well on its own and doesn't leave you in a cliffhanger. However, that doesn't mean the book is any less interesting because of it and Gaiman writes it so that one is eager for what comes next. There's a big pay-off in the end as Gaiman works with all the threads he established previously yet leaving room for expansion and conflict--all the while satisfying the target audience of the book.
Overall, The Graveyard Book is highly recommended and one of Gaiman's books that pack a punch irregardless of your age group. The characterization, its pacing, and the writing style are all synchronized and culminate to an enjoyable and layered reading experience.
1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.