Book Review: THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

the ocean at the end of the laneAuthor: Neil Gaiman

Number of Pages: 181

Publisher: William Morrow Books

Release Date: June 18, 2013

“Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.”

– Goodreads.com

My relationship with Mr. Gaiman is a relatively meager one. The only other book of his that I have read is Stardust, and that was several years ago. Needless to say I wasn’t very sure what to expect from this very short adult fantasy novel. It’s quite different from the genre that I normally read, but the intriguing description convinced me that it was a book that I had to at least try to read.

The charming setting in the English countryside and the sweet narrative voice of the main character’s younger perspective immediately swept me into the story.  It’s not often that a book written for adults is narrated by a seven-year-old boy, but it’s really a brilliant idea. Everyone was a child, and everyone was at one point in their lives at least a bit naive and innocent. We have all been enchanted by fairy tales, frightened by ghastly nightmares, and fascinated by the larger world around us. Having a child narrate the story creates a common ground that nearly all readers can connect with and relate to, if not fully than at least to a small extent. The friendship between the main character and Lettie also fostered this vast opportunity for connections, because haven’t we all admired or looked up to someone at least once in our lives? The countless connections I felt with this book was one of the major reasons why I enjoyed it so much.

There were many other positive aspects of this book as well: Neil Gaiman’s writing style, the uniqueness of the fantasy elements that were involved, the character development, the way both the past and present life of the main character were included in different perspectives, etc. But despite its great qualities, there were also some negatives aspects that I feel deserve to be mentioned. Some of the elements of fantasy, particularly the creatures and the various forms they took on, were very difficult to picture in my mind. I felt as though the descriptions were lacking in regard to their appearance, which made it more challenging to really feel absorbed into the story. There were parts that were quite confusing, too, and at times there were little details that I had a hard time making sense of.

Overall, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a great book, and it has definitely made me want to read more books written by Neil Gaiman. The clarity issues did not hinder the characters or the plot in any way, and the story itself was engaging and kept me interested the entire way through. This book is so action packed and has so much depth that it seems impossible that it’s only 181 pages long. I’m so glad that I decided to give this book a chance!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes!

Have you read this book before? What are your thoughts on it? Do you have any suggestions for other Neil Gaiman books that I should read? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

  1. Holly, I highly recommend The Graveyard Book (if possible, listen to the audio -Neil reads it, and is fabulous!). I know that everybody knows and recommends Coraline, and it’s good, but Graveyard is just a quick, clever read.

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  2. I read this book not that long ago as well, and I loved it. It isn’t quiet mystical realism, but it doesn’t follow the typical fantasy novel entire. I like how smooth the transitions are between reality and outside of it. I wrote on this book, too. Then again, I really like Neil Gaiman.

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  3. I read this as soon as it came out, and loved it. His short stories and poems are some of my favorites. Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things are two collections that I love. Any chance to hear Neil Gaiman read some of his work is awesome. He did An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer where he reads (and sometimes sings) and his wife sings (and sometimes reads) that is wonderful. You can find it on iTunes. The Day the Saucers Came and Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar are two stories he reads on An Evening with that I adore. You can also find some of the short works on his website for free.

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