March 12, 2009

Sandman Love Rekindled

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here's the part where I confess I couldn't make it through Neverwhere. I'm sorry. I thought it was boring. Which is especially damning since it contains a lot of the same themes as my own fiction, but I just couldn't get through it. The almost-comical 'baddiness' of the bad guys, the innocent boy / strange girl pairing; they just didn't work for me... which is interesting since that's exactly what worked, and worked well, in The Graveyard Book.

Maybe it was the fact that it was a "children's story" (although it starts with a violent murder, so, hardly PG-13) but everything that was silly and farfetched in Neverwhere was completely enjoyable here. And while it's no longer possible to start a story with an orphan without obvious Harry Potter parallels,* the storylines and magics involved are different enough they don't replace nor complement the HP franchise.

I really enjoy Gaiman as a children's author or comic writer over his straight fiction; since his material is so off-kilter, you need that extra fraction of unreality in the storytelling to really make it its best.

*Who, I think it can be said, has displaced Peter Pan forever as the quintessential orphaned hero (allowing for another Luke Skywalker resurgence, of course).

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