I just finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It is a Newbury Award winning book. The Newbury Award. I trust the Newbury Award. That big gold sticker screams, "This is good stuff! Pick this book up and read it and we promise that you won't be disappointed." Guess what. I was a little disappointed. I wanted to love this book. Really, I did. There were parts that had me captivated. I take no issue with his writing or even the characters, setting, and plot. It just felt like every time I was really getting hooked, he dropped the plot line. There were too many unanswered questions for me. I kept wondering if perhaps there was some background knowledge I was lacking that would have allowed me greater insight into the characters and events as they unfolded. I still have unanswered questions. I read a handful of reviews on "Goodreads" before sitting down to reflect on the book. They're all pretty fantastic. One girl even wrote how she loved the cute ending. What cute ending? I think I missed something. On a scale of 1-5 (five being the best) I give this book a 3.5 and I feel generous doing so.
The big take-aways: Some readers like fantasy. Not all do. Just because so many readers loved this book doesn't mean I'm going to or my students are going to. It certainly doesn't mean that I should like it. It doesn't mean that my students should like it either. Some will and some won't. That is all.
If I'm being honest, I'm not much of a fantasy lover. I LOVE the Harry Potter series. Like, Every. Single. Book. I liked The Hunger Games. I loved reading Stephanie Meyers' Twilight Saga (Team Edward). A Wrinkle in Time was amazing and I love Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. The Tale of Despereaux might be my favorite book. Might. Quite possibly. Still, fantasy is really not my thing. I love a good historical fiction, realistic fiction, or even non-fiction. The Graveyard book was meh for me.
I feel guilty saying this. Did I mention that it won the Newbury Award? I kept waiting for it to reveal itself. I wanted the big "aha" moment that I had when I read Holes. It never came. Not for me anyway.
What might come? A kid who loves fantasy. A kid who might just love this book. I didn't love the book but I know I'll love talking to "that kid" about this book. That's enough of a reason to have read the book. On to the next one!
If you'd like a second opinion, and you really do deserve one, check out some of the reviews on Goodreads.