Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Review

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Dave McKean
Published date: September 30th 2008
ISBN: 0060530928

Summary from Goodreads:

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

My thoughts:

This was the first Neil Gaiman's book I've read and I would say it was an excellent read. It was dark for a middle school read but I think it was the usual Neil Gaiman's style. The setting and the characters in the book were really well done. Nobody a.k.a. Bod, the main character, was an unfortunate boy. His parents were killed by Jack and he ended up living with the dead in a graveyard. It's really fun seeing Bod trying to be like his ghost friends and yet he knew he can't. Being a curious young boy, he ventures out to help a ghost friend and gets in trouble. Seeing Bod getting out of trouble was really fun. Throughout the whole book Bod struggled with accepting who he was. Sometimes he felt like he was in between the living and the dead. Another problem he struggle with was keeping human friends because of his ability and his living environment may endanger those friends. I find the story pacing was quick and easy to follow. Later on, the mystery of who Jack was and why he wanted to kill Bod was explained and it was very satisfying.

The book felt episodic in a way since each chapters has Bod at a different time period in his life. One chapter he was a young boy and lasted till his teens. I was a bit teary in the ending and it felt worthwhile reading this book. Overall, I enjoyed The Graveyard Book a lot and I can't wait to read his adult title The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani Review

Title: The School for Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
ISBN: 0062104896
Published: May 14th 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.”

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

My thoughts:

This is a really fun book with a lot of twist that you don't usually see in fairy tales. I thought it would be the typical good vs. evil book but it turns out to be so much more. Lots of plot twist and contemplating on who is really good and who is really bad. Sophie and Agatha are polar opposites of each other and you can see how trouble can ensues when they are drop into the unexpected school. I really like the character development in Agatha. She's a good person but people keep seeing her as a witch because of her interest. Sophie is an interesting character too. As you read on, you learn that maybe they weren't in the wrong school after all. The supporting characters were memorable and there was a hint of romance along the way. It's nice to see the idea of what if good turn evil and evil turn good. Also I enjoy reading about Nevers(evil) vs. Evers(good) competitions and the activities they did during their different classes. I kind of knew how it was going to end but I felt the ending was a bit abrupt. I think that's why there's a second book coming out next year. I'm looking forward to reading book two and see what happen next.