Monday, April 16, 2012

The Graveyard Book ~ Neil Gaiman

Yes, I should be writing the papers I mentioned in my last post.  Oh well.

I listened to The Graveyard Book on audio back in January and have only, in the throes of procrastination, managed to get around to talking to you about it.  The book is about a boy whose family suffered violent murders which he only escaped because he happened to climb out of his crib and wander out the door into a graveyard inhabited by the dead.  The dead grant the small child protection, the Freedom of the Graveyard (meaning he can more wheresoever he likes), and a name - Nobody Owens (Bod for short).  He grows up there and gets into various scrapes and predicaments and things work out even though it seems like they shouldn't.

As for the book itself, I don't actually have that much to say.  It was...okay.  I listened to it, I was somewhat absorbed, it ended, and I didn't think about it much more.  It certainly wasn't a bad story, it just didn't do that much for me.  I have much more to say about the listening experience, which was rather odd.

Neil Gaiman is an excellent reader.  His accent and intonation are perfect for his writing, which I discovered when I read Neverwhere (which I apparently never formally reviewed on here - let's just say it's good).  The thing is, he's only got one voice of his own, and that one voice only has so many options.  Which means that he has to recycle voices from book to book, which is perfectly reasonable but supremely disorienting.

An analogy, for those who have seen The Good Girl with Jennifer Aniston: So you started watching it and you were all like, a night with Rachel Green, what fun.  And then she cheats on her husband and turns in her lover, resulting in his suicide, and you were all like WHHAAAAAAT?!  I can never watch Friends again.  Ruined.  RUINED.  You have been tainted, Rachel Green, by your other personalities.

It's like that.  The voice of Bod's sweet, trusting childhood friend is the same as Richard Mayhew's bitch of a fiancee in Neverwhere and it's just not right.  Not right at all.  And this was true for nearly every character.  It was like the whole cast of Harry Potter performed The Hunger Games.  Not right at all (and that was a terrible comparison, by the way, but deal).  I don't think that this impacted my enjoyment of the book (or lack thereof) all that much, but it was completely distracting and makes me wonder if listening to Neil Gaiman read his novels must always be a one-time affair.  And if listening to any audiobook reader must only be a fling, never to be repeated.  How sad.

Has anybody else ever had this experience?

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