One of the things I've been listening to while colouring has been the videos of Neil Gaiman reading his new book, The Graveyard Book, on his blog. I finished it last night and I liked it. Gaiman creates a small, but very detailed world in and around a graveyard, the details emerging naturally from the protagonist's, Bod's, interactions with the world and the people in it. The first portion of the book feels like a collection of short stories about the same character, which adds a great deal of tension to the climax, as Gaiman has introduced with the earlier vignettes simultaneously the crucial shaping of Bod's character and enhanced the verisimilitude by lingering in seemingly non-crucial but interesting details of the world.
By the end of the book, it feels as though Gaiman's considering chess moves, and the valuable pieces are those that have been given significance earlier in the book but which one wouldn't necessarily expect to take the stage as they do. I think it's built well for enjoyable multiple reads, because things like the Ghoul Gate and Liza the witch have interest as they factor into the forward movement of the story, but could also be dwelled upon for their individually nice renderings even after the reader knows how things have ended up.
It's interesting listening to an author read his book before an audience. I find my reaction to the material was modified a bit by the audience reaction, sort of like a sitcom, I suppose. Things like the recurring device of each new ghost being introduced with his or her epitaph were things I would have found interesting on paper, but the fact that the audience laughed at them made me laugh, too.
I also noticed every Neil Gaiman book I can think of since Sandman has been about someone getting caught in an unusual, supernatural event, sometimes finding in him or herself supernatural abilities, and using these and/or some cleverness, to defeat the villain. With the exception of Coraline, it's always boys or men, as far as I can recall. I don't really mind this formula, since he does it well, but I would be interested in seeing him try something completely new. At the very least, I hope he explores using female protagonists more. I love female protagonists. I love females.