S4L Book Club – The Graveyard Book

Spoiler alert!  Today we’re going to discuss the ending of the book.  Is the ending of the book too cliched?  I’m referring to the part where the reader learns that the Jacks were after Bod because it was prophesied that he would destroy the Jacks.  Then in the course of pursuing Bod to avert the prophesy, the Jacks are destroyed.  This plot device has been used many times before from Oedipus to Harry Potter. 

Since the plot serves mainly as a framework for the views into Bod’s childhood and provides a backdrop of danger that is the reason Bod stays in the graveyard, is this plot-device sufficient?

Categories: Reading

5 replies »

  1. I will put my some of my notes in this posting. If it mixes a lot of things (sorry about that but), I hope you can discuss some of it? I am soon off to Italy, so I do not know when the next time is when I can read or post anything…(and in a Forum it is well to be disciplined and just talk about one subject in one thread, but we work it out when we get there, will we not 😉 …)

    In the beginning of the book, Silas is the only one going out to check Bod family’s apartment, and he discovers something there. We are not introduced to what or why Silas knows this or that, but he has a leading role in Bods life and security. And this stays with the story to the end. I think this is very good, even though it is not explained very well…

    I think the destroying of the Jacks are like a “not talked about red line” in the book. It is all along meant to be the final goal to survive as a human for Bod… but lame the end is!

    *The Jacks – are they really humans? Even though they “live” among them? They can travel to other dimensions, so, I do not know what they are. What is their purpose? They do sniff out things like dogs…hmm*

    And this conflict Jacks vs. Bod (family) and Jacks vs. The other creatures in other dimensions are not thoroughly shown in the story. We are introduced to it sometimes. The end is to standard, to written all over before. But for a first timer it will work well, maybe.

    As a contrast to the murder-start of the book, this falls out as an “easy” part as a fantasy and “mystery” novel. I would have liked the murder out of the book, and just let the little kid wander out of the apartment at the same time as “something scary” is going on inside…then we could have wondered more and have a better mystery -since it is not explained well anyway!

    I do agree that this book is a frame for growing up under hard conditions, about how to learn what is needed to be a part of a group and part of a family, and to stay on your feet towards bullying. Bod is practicing being part of a living human society, even though it is very hard. We can see that he grows and is mastering something and fails others…

    What works is that we as adults knows about the characters and what they are (or are not) –some of us know, anyway (Hi Jen! Hilariously fun that you did not recognize the creatures… I knew at once) and because of the subtlety of not describing these characters out loud, makes it a “good” book to read out loud? But I still think it is a bit too violent?

    The plot is a bit stretched out, in my opinion. The story is not that flexible! Why would the Jacks want to continue what-ever they do (for a living) – except of wanting to kill Bod??? The baby-prophesy is an easy one, but what about the war between the Jacks and both humans and “the rest” What is going on? This is not a good enough mystery to me as an adult reader. I think it will work for newcomers. I think the book needed the child to become a hero, since Silas is not human, and the chape-shanging warewolf lady is not either… Children needs heroes, and to learn to become master of tasks and challenges. And this “To Kill A Jack”-final is necessary for the survival of Bods.
    Are we to see what Bod is to do with the other bad creatures in a later book? Or will they just keep on “living” their life??? Anyway, Bod lost his graveyardness when reaching puberty, so he was a threat to the Jacks up to this point? Because he would have been an easy task as a teenager?

    A lot of fun and nice things happen in the graveyard as a living room. This saves the book as fun, likeable and ok story.
    To me the book ends with the best when Silas is surprised of his connections to Bod, and wanting to call for him if need be… A good puzzle, that is!
    Best regards…

  2. You can guess what I’m going to say, right? Yes, I found the “prophesy says boy will destroy Jacks” angle to be a cliched contrivance. I was especially bothered by the lack of support behind the contrivance: what, exactly, is it that the Jacks do anyway? Why would Bod want or need to destroy them? His motivation in the book is because they killed his family, but what would it have been had they not? Presumably, he was destined to want to kill them. Why? That seems like a really basic question that is never answered.

    I love Harriet’s comment that the plot is a bit stretched out. Yes! It’s extremely thin from all that stretching.

    So, what I’m getting from those of you who liked the book is that we appreciated a lot of the same things–the growing up in the graveyard and the clever characters (Mother Slaughter’s gravestone said “laugh”–great bit!). You’re just more willing to forgive the thin and contrived plot.

    Harriet says a couple of times that “it might be okay for newcomers.” There’s truth in this: things that I find hackneyed may be new to kids. So use the device. Use the prophesy angle. I still say it has to be supported. That’s the flaw I can’t dismiss.

    I’m a huge fan of understatement. That I missed the whole vampire and werewolf connection is my ignorance and lack of proper consideration—and I agree, is quite funny. In hindsight, I consider that one of the good things about the book.

    You know what bugged me more than the Jack killing? That Bod loses his ability to see and interact with the graveyard folks at the end. I thought that was a blatantly obvious act of manipulation to yank on the heartstrings, to end on a particular note. Oh, I went with it and blubbered appropriately, but I resented the contrivance. What purpose does that ending serve except to manipulate reader emotion? What does it do for the story?

  3. I think that the ending is to be a symbol of the periode when teenagers goes from childhood to be more grownups. There are rites / celebrations of this in almost every culture and religion. I think the foggines is also helping him to forget the hard part of his youth. But, but, but… This does not make any sens. Bod is loosing every connections in life, human family, graveyard life, the human living girl ( that Silas made forget) and he looses his city rights in the graveyard. He has becomed a tru nobody. Why? I do not think any child will like to identify he or herself to a true nobody?? Great puzzle from the writer, or a great fall into a … This is not good. To me the end was not so sentimental, because he turned out to be nothing, and a chosen one can never become nothing or nobody, when the task is done, or if it haddent been completed. This is depressing.
    * what does this mean: { I went with it and blubbered appropriatly, but I resented the contrivance.} i do understand resented= doesnt like. 🙂 help, please?

  4. It means I allowed myself to be pulled into the sentimentality and loss, and I cried and felt sad, but at the same time, I didn’t like feeling so blatantly manipulated. The ending felt forced onto the story. I hadn’t considered it exactly as you did—that our hero becomes nobody, for real—but I also wondered why the author chose this ending because it doesn’t seem to be necessary. Bod doesn’t need a chance to start over. Wiping out the past isn’t necessary for him, so what’s the point? I felt as though the author said, “Well, I want to make people sappy and sad, so I’ll do this.” It didn’t feel motivated by the story itself, but rather like a device to evoke the chosen emotion.

    Now that you’ve got me thinking about Bod being nobody at the end, I’m inclined to think a better ending would have been to have him be Somebody to someone. Show the entrance into the next phase of his life, outside the graveyard, a progression from being Nobody to Somebody.