I wouldn't have thought that I could find this book much sooner than I expected! It was that one day return trip to East Java that did it: a glance at a shelf of Periplus at Surabaya airport, before boarding, made me squeal inwardly. That cover! With McKean illustrations! Paperback, too! *Snatch!* and the book was within my hold and got devoured (but not before I bragged to my sister, who was an earlier Gaiman fan). Having seen videos of Neil read the chapters himself brought a different sensation in my reading experience: I kept hearing Neil's voice and intonation when my eyes swept the words. Not that I mind. I enjoyed it, rather, having almost all characters animated by the author himself. ("Almost", because not all chapters are successfully loaded)
Now, about the book. The story is very captivating, turning upside-down our ideas about graveyard and its dwellers. Mind, this graveyard is physically unlike the ones we have in our common villages in Indonesia, although the composition of its inhabitants might be similar: spirits of the deceased, and creatures heard only in stories told from one generation to another. There is even a sacred ground, as well. This old graveyard makes you want to explore its contents and get to know its inhabitants, as long as Bod is with you and keeping you safe. (That's why, in a way, I'm a bit jealous of Scarlett!)
But really, imagine how intriguing it is to have your family story concealed by those unearthly creatures, who have adopted you as one of them. How cool it is to be able to do things that only their kinds can. How you can control Fear and even Terror. I like it that the story flows easily although old English phrases are thrown here and there, as the consequence of conversing with the graveyard's inhabitants (whose living periods are from centuries ago). I like the humor about how Bod's family is suspected of being "religious" by a teacher.
What I find a bit tedious is the part about how Bod handled the school's bullies, because he seems to be much wiser than his age. Almost unreal. But again, it could be how you end up, being raised with centuries-old manners and ethics. Bod is nice, never naughty, and very polite. Perhaps, indeed, it takes a (graveyard) village to raise a (perfect) child.
All in all, I've enjoyed the whole story. It is typically Gaiman, in a way that makes us see otherworldly existence as fellow 'humans' and see human beings as.. well, 'the others'.
The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman, 2008
Paperback, 320 pages
ISBN 0061712825 (isbn13: 9780061712821)