Book reviews: Neil Gaiman

I have been reading quite a bit of Neil Gaiman’s works lately so I thought I’d do one post for several of the books.  In addition to the three books I’ve reviewed previously (Coraline, Neverwhere, and American Gods), I have read Anansi Boys, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Graveyard Book.  Anansi Boys is about siblings whose father was a spider god. Separated at birth, one of the boys takes after his father, both wielding powers and with a penchant for being a playboy.  The other is a typical person without any powers who has memories of being tricked and embarrassed by his father.  When the two siblings meet, there is rivalry between them, and there are outside forces that are out to harm them in order to get revenge for the things their father had done.  The book has similar themes to Gaiman’s other works – an average person thrown into extraordinary circumstances, forced to deal with supernatural forces and beings.  At the heart of this story is what true power is and knowing yourself enough to know that true power lies within.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is perhaps my favorite book of all the Gaiman books I have read (it’s a pretty close call between this one and American Gods).  This book has a dream like quality and, as a reader, it’s hard to know what is really happening.  The book drifts between the present and the past.  A man remembers his friendship with a household of supernatural beings and how the girl in the household disappeared after helping him.  He revisits the house and meets the mom and grandmother, both unchanged.  There is a little twist at the end of the book, but I don’t want to give anything away.  It is beautifully written.  If you are only going to read one Neil Gaiman book, I would recommend reading this one.

The Graveyard Book is about a baby whose family is murdered.  The baby accidentally crawled off just before the murders took place so he ends up being the only survivor.  He is adopted by a group of ghosts other supernatural beings at a graveyard.  He is granted limited powers while he is in the graveyard and grows up under the tutelage of a motley crew of ghosts, a witch, a vampire, and a werewolf.  It is a sweet book (despite the name) about acceptance and being different.  It reminds us that, no matter what we do in life, we will all end up dead so we should make the most of our lives.  It also questions what is good and what is bad, who is good, who is bad.

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