Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: " The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

Happy Tuesday,  my little snowblossoms!

Are you reading up a storm during this cold weather? Nothing else to do, right?

REVIEW

Title:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author:  Neil Gaiman
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pages:   246

Synopsis:
 

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.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

 




As a dedicated Neil Gaiman fan I waited patiently for this title to release and was ectatic when it did. I then had to wait MONTHS to get a hold of the title because of personal-life juggling. I would have just gotten the title from my local Book Borrowing Institution (Library, people. Library) but the wait list was insane. 

At any rate, I finally got to read the thing with the belief that if Neil Gaiman wrote it, it's probably wonderful.

I have to say that out of all of the Gaiman works that I've read this one was a little "Meh" for me, mostly because it was caught somewhere between the world of Juvenile Fiction and Adult Fantasy. Though imaginative (as usual, Mr. Gaiman) this title wasn't as gritty as his adult novels (though there were a few notable "Yikes!" moments. The whole adultery thing for example.) Since the majority of the book is voiced from the perspective of a child I guess it's understandable, but honestly barring the mentions of nudity and that one split second steamy scene we could have shelved this in Juvenile or YA and called it a day.

That's not really a complaint. I LOVED "The Graveyard Book" and "Coraline", passionately. As a Juvenile Fiction work I think this one would have been on the level of those two, but with the random adult content thrown in (I don't mean explicit content, I'm talking about a case or two of violence mostly and then the mention of nudity) it just seemed to fall somewhere in the gray middle. Not as gritty as his adult works, but not as appealing as his Juvenile Fiction works.

Despite the above it was still a great read and as usual the story was imaginative and intelligent with references to all sorts of things that you either just have to naturally understand or really think about to grasp. Deeper meanings prevail and reading between the lines is a readers best bet, though if you're not interested in feeling intellectually stimulated the story is entertaining enough to read without considering all of the potential discussion questions.

This book definitely makes you think, makes you wonder, about all of the memories you've lost over the years. All of the memories that seemed to escape your head as you grew from a child to an adult. Who can really remember their younger days? I mean REALLY remember them? Not just the vague fuzzy fogginess of remembering that can be manipulated by suggestion, but the true remembering... the way you remember what you had for breakfast this morning (which, I admit, is also sometimes difficult).

Gaiman's works are always Fantastical and full of unexpected questions about human nature, existence, and what it means to even be alive. What does it MEAN to be human anyway? Do we have it all wrong? Are we blind to the real world? Those deep, dark, ancient things that surely existed... are they still THERE?

Or is it all just one big giant symbol for the way that we exist as people... some to harm and some to heal. Some to dream and some to trudge through life with no creative thought in their heads. Some to crawl and others fly.


Now, you see, I've worked myself up into giving this a 4/5. On the surface it's a 3... but when you start the considering and the discussing the rating scoots itself on up.

Definitely recommend, especially for Gaiman fans and anyone who likes to think to themselves "I don't know a darn thing about anything, do I?".



Until Next Blog,

Read On!


2 comments:

  1. I really liked the first half of this one, I found it very touching and sad. I lost interest somewhere in the second half, though, when it was more about "fighting the monster".

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