The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (Audio Book)


Winner of the Hugo Award 2009 for Best Novel, Newbery Medal 2009,  Locus YA book of the Year 2009, Audie Audiobook of the Year 2009.

The Graveyard Book seems to have won every prize going in the past year. I haven’t read any of Neil Gaiman’s books before, so was really interested to find out what they were like. When I discovered that The Graveyard Book had won audio book of the year at The Audies, I decided that I had to listen to it straight away.

I was immediately impressed by Neil Gaiman’s narration. It is great to discover an author who is able to skillfully read his own books.

The story begins with a toddler escaping from home after his family have been murdered. The little boy seeks refuge in a graveyard and it’s ghostly residents decide to look after him; protecting him from the killer who continues to search for him.

The plot is quite gentle and although there are some potentially scary scenes, only the smallest of children would be afraid. I think this is a lovely children’s book, but the simplicity of the storyline makes this an unsatisfying adult read.

I enjoyed listening to it, as Neil Gaiman’s narration added to the atmosphere, but I think I would have been disappointed had I read the book. I think even teenagers would find this book too light to appeal.

If you know any 10-year-olds then go and buy them the audio book straight away, but I’m afraid I can’t recommend this to adults.

Adult rating: stars3h

10-year-old rating: stars4h

Did you enjoy The Graveyard Book?

Have you read any of Neil Gaiman’s other books?

Would I find any of them more satisfying?

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  1. Claire says:

    Neil Gaiman is, I think, one of the best readers (in public) and audio narrators I have come across.

    I enjoyed The Graveyard Book but it isn’t a patch on his adult novels although I wasn’t expecting it to be.

    If you want satisfying then read American Gods and if you are not satisfied by that then Neil Gaiman’s writing isn’t for you.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, Great! I will add American Gods to the list. I was sure he was a good author, but didn’t see why people thought this book was so good.

      I agree that Neil Gaiman is one of the best narrators around. I look forward to listening to more of his books in the future.

    2. pussreboots says:

      American Gods is my least favorite Gaiman. I don’t think it’s the standard to judge his writing by. I am adult and I adored The Graveyard Book. So did my husband and a number of our adult friends.

      1. Jackie says:

        pussreboots, Interesting! It sounds as though they are very different books – I’ll have to try American Gods soon so I can see the difference.

  2. Sandy says:

    I read this book with my kids, and I think you are spot on. While I enjoyed the book, would I say it was the best kids book ever? No, probably not. But the kids really liked it. I didn’t need to twist their arm to sit down every day and read a chapter. I’ve not read anything else by Gaiman, but have seen Coraline the movie, and it was fabulous.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I’m pleased to hear that your kids enjoyed it. I saw a trailer for Coraline and thought it looked good, but I haven’t watched it yet. I couldn’t decide whether to read the book first or not!

      1. Sandy says:

        Usually I will stand on my high horse and demand to read the book first, but I was overruled here in the Nawrot house! We saw it in 3D and it was absolutely brilliant!

        1. Jackie says:

          Sandy, I don’t normally apply my high horse to children’s books, so I’ll let you off!

  3. Steph says:

    I haven’t read any of the books Gaiman has targeted at adults, unless Stardust was considered one of those… in which case I would still not recommend that as I HATED it with a fiery passion (and the movie wasn’t much better in my opinion).

    I read this aloud in the car on the way back from our honeymoon, and while it wasn’t really awesome, it was a good book to read outloud and I actually appreciated its simplicity in that respect. For me The Graveyard Books is strictly a YA/kids book, but I was able to enjoy it as such.

    I think the next Gaiman I read will be American Gods (which Claire suggests), as many people have really enjoyed that one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I think this is a great book to be read aloud and I look forward to reading it to my boys when they are bigger.

      I’m not sure if Stardust was aimed at adults – I watched it and thought it was quite good. I’m not sure if I’d enjoy reading it or not.

      I look forward to reading your thoughts on American Gods – you’ll probably get to it before me!

      1. claire says:

        While I didn’t think Stardust was mind-blowing, I quite enjoyed it, even more than The Graveyard Book.

        I don’t class Gaiman among my top fave unbelievably brilliant authors, but I do keep him with the authors who I love just because their books, while not the best, are still adorable and heartwarming and would be fun to re-read!

        1. Steph says:

          I think Stardust may have just been a fluke on my end. It looked and seemed like a book I would love, and for whatever reason, it just left me hopelessly cold. But I have enjoyed other Gaiman that I’ve encountered, this and the film version of Coraline (which I’d be up for reading at some point. I know it’s for kids, but it seems a little more nuanced some how).

        2. Jackie says:

          Claire, I think that the plot of Stardust was more interesting tha the plot of The Graveyard Book, but I’ve not read the book, so don’t know how much the film followed the writing. I think I’ll have the same attitude as you – I’ll follow him in the future, but he won’t enter my top author list.

    2. pussreboots says:

      Stardust was the very first Gaiman I ever read. It remains one of my favorites and I love the movie. I own a copy and have seen it many times.

      1. Jackie says:

        pussreboots, I enjoyed Stardust and can see how it might improve with several watchings. I’m pleased to hear that you love it so much!

  4. JoAnn says:

    I’m tempted to listen just to hear him read! Gaiman’s name came up several times when I wrote a Sunday Salon post a few months ago entitled ‘When Writers Read’ – he seems to be one of the few writers that does a good job. His story Snow, Glass, Apples is the only thing I’ve read so far.

    1. Jackie says:

      JoAnn, I remember that post. I think you should listen to this one as he does a great job of narrating. It is quite short (5 CDs) so it doesn’t take that long!

  5. Simon S says:

    I cannot actually believe that I have still not read this book, its not good and I need to read it, maybe after Septembers all done.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, I’m not surprised you have to wait until the end of September – I don’t know how you are going to fit all those books in to one month!

      The great thing about this book is that it is a children’s audio book, so you can get it free from the library!

  6. I listened to Coraline a few months back (still haven’t written my review…) and while the story was good, it was really Gaiman’s narration that drew me in. I do want to listen to another book of his if he is reading it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Melissa, It sounds as though it will be very similar to this one. I think Coraline is just as short as this one so I’m tempted to listen to it soon and then watch the film. It is good to hear that he narrated that one too.

  7. Lahni says:

    Ahh, I’m sad you didn’t like this one, I really did. It was also my first Gaiman and since then I’ve read two more and plan to read even more!

    1. Jackie says:

      Lahni, I’m sure I will read many more of his books, as he is clearly a talented author – hopefully I’ll love his adult books.

  8. Eva says:

    I second Claire completely! :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Eva, It is great when people agree! LOL!

  9. Meghan says:

    I haven’t read The Graveyard Book yet, but I did really enjoy Neverwhere and American Gods (the first one more so). I wouldn’t call him one of my favorite authors but I’m definitely interested in reading more.

    1. Jackie says:

      Meghan, I haven’t heard of Neverwhere before – just shows how little I really know about this author – I’ll have to look into him a bit more!

  10. mee says:

    This is my first Neil Gaiman’s novel too. And I think I mildly liked it. My review:
    I agree that it could be too simplistic. I kinda just took it as a cute story.
    Believe it or not, I’ve never tried audio book. Neil Gaiman’s should be a good one to start with, if I ever decide to try.

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, I think Neil Gaiman is a great place to start with audio books, but there are a lot of other good ones. Have a look at the audie site for some inspiration (link is in the post) I’m listening to Child 44 at the moment (winner in best thriller 2009) and am loving it.

  11. I’m 24, and I really want to read this now! :)

    I’ve been planning on reading a Gaiman for ages, but just never got down to it. I almost picked up Coraline thrice as well, but kept passing it up. This one looks like a winner, plus, I actually do enjoy books for kids, so… :)

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, If you enjoy kids books then this is for you! I hope you enjoy it!

  12. Jenny says:

    I liked The Graveyard Book, how it sort of followed the structure of The Jungle Book (which I liked much less). I thought it was rather sweet – but definitely not my favorite one of Gaiman’s books. Sorry this wasn’t better for you!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I hadn’t noticed that it followed The Jungle Book – thanks for pointing that out!

  13. Rebecca Reid says:

    I love to read children’s books — the simple plots appeal to the child in me — so I’m quite eager to read this book. I’m so glad to hear that the audio is great. Maybe I’ll go for the audio on this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Rebecca, Yes, I think the audio version is a very good idea for this book – it is one of those which is better read aloud.

  14. Melody says:

    I’ve enjoyed most of Neil Gaiman’s books. He’s one talented author. This is one of my favourite books besides Coraline, that is. I’ve yet to watch the film adaptation of the latter but I know it’s good since I’ve heard nothing but raves about it.

    1. Jackie says:

      I have only seen positive reviews for the film too. I’ll try to get a DVD as soon as I can!

  15. This sounds like one that would be great for listening to!

    1. Jackie says:

      J.T. It is! You should give it a try!

  16. Jo says:

    I really liked this one, Although I haven’t read anything else so I don’t know how it compares. I did finish it and immediately think would like to have known more about Silas though.

    And I’d like to hear the author read it. I think it would be good on audio.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, I hadn’t thought about that – I would love to know more about Silas too.

  17. Beth F says:

    I listened to Coraline and liked it. I have the print (signed!) of Graveyard Book, but haven’t read it yet.

    I can count on one hand (and have fingers left over) the number of authors who are good enough to narrate their own audiobooks. Gaiman is one who can. Normally I run like the wind from author-narrated books.

    Anyway, my understanding is that Graveyard Book is a middle-reader book, so I can understand your review.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, SNAP! I have a signed copy of The Graveyard Book too!

  18. Violet says:

    I don’t like audio books, so if I read this it has to be a print book. I have a collection of Neil Gaiman’s short stories called ‘Fragile things’. I’ve read a couple of stories and although they are weird, they are really different.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, I’m not normally a fan of short stories, so I think I’ll give the others a try first. It is nice to know thay are weird though – I like weird!

  19. Kim says:

    My 12-year old daughter is still irritated that this book won so many awards over The Hunger Games (which she loved). I read other Gaimen books and while he has hordes of fans, it just wasn’t for me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I agree – The Hunger Games was a lot better than this. The Hunger Games appealed to all ages, but I think this one is aimed at children.

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