And with those words the reader is thrust into a unique world and adventure. One can automatically infer that from just that opening sentence, they are about to embark on a bourney (book journey) of intrigue, excitement, and danger. I am a huge Gaiman fan and this is the 5th book by him that I've read. Neverwhere, American Gods, Smoke & Mirrors, and Stardust being the previous four respectively. He is now the 2nd most author I've read, Stephen King being the 1st. Gaiman has a way of weaving a beautiful story full of imagination beyond comprehension. He doesn't fall into the formulaic plot that most author's of this genre do. He creates new creatures as well as reimagining old ones. He spins a story so enthralling the reader can't help but become immersed in it. I have not been disappointed with any of the books I've read by him, though there were a few stories in Smoke & Mirrors that were just OK, but overall the book was great.
TGB Synopsis: "In this ingenious and captivating reimagining of Rudyrad Kipling's classic adventure The Jungle Book, Neil Gaiman tells the unforgettable story of Nobody Owens, a living, breathing boy whose home is a graveyard, raised by a guardian who belongs neither to the mortal world nor the realm of the dead. Among the mausoleums and headstones of his home, Bod experiences things most mortals can barely imagine. But real, flesh-and-blood danger waits just outside the cemetery walls: the man who murdered the infant Bod's family will not rest until he finds Nobody Owens and finishes the job he began years ago."
Having never read The Jungle Book I cannot speak to how it compared, though I do fully intend on reading Kipling's classic this year. I can say that I thought this book was fantastic! It was full of Gaiman's wit and creativity. He writes with compassion and it shows in the characters he's created. You can empathize with each character, be it love, hate, anger, sadness, joy, or astonishment. I found myself gasping at times when imminent danger was lurking around the next page, I laughed at the moments of awkwardness between Bod and the "living", I felt compassion from the tender moments between Bod and his "ghost parents" and his living/not living guardian Silas. I was angered and frustrated at the cruelty of the school bully's and greedy shopkeeper, and the villainous murderers. I felt triumph with Bod's defeat of his enemies. I felt a deep sadness when he had to say good-bye to the only living friend and girl he liked, Scarlet, and even more sadness when it was time for Bod to say good-bye to the only world and "people" he knew, the ghosts of the graveyard, his "parents" and Silas. I felt joy and inspiration when Bod forged forward leaving all he knew behind, with hope and determination in his heart. I felt excitement at the endless possibilities and adventures Bod would embark on. This was a story of "love, loss, survival, and sacrifice...and what it means to truly be alive". I felt all those emotions and more. As I neared the end of the book, I kept looking down at the page number, in hopes I wouldn't be close to finishing. I hungered for more, to read more and was impatient to see how the story unfolded, but I was also reticent to continue because it meant the bourney would be over. Such is the dilemma for the avid reader and a truly remarkable book. It is a cycle we must endure, a torture we inflict on ourselves with both great pain and pleasure, and always a cycle we are too eager to repeat.
I loved this book and highly rec it. It gets my highest rating XXX. I will leave this post with one of the best closing paragraphs I've read:
"There was a passport in his bag, money in his pocket. There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill; and there would be dangers in it and mysteries, new friends ot make, old friends to rediscover, mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard or ride with the Lady on the broad back of her great grey stallion.
But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open."