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

Review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
on 2013-06-18
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 208

Author WebsiteAmazonKoboiBooksBarnes&Noble

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.

So have you ever read a book that seems to be loved by the entire world, yet you didn’t? That’s how I feel. Almost guilty. I should have love it, or at least really liked it.

Let me start by saying that this is the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve read. Will I pick up one of his other books? Maybe. I can’t deny that his writing has something appealing about it. There were passages of sheer genius that saved this from being something I didn’t like. They stirred a bit of melancholy in me. Those moments helped me get through it.

I picked this book up because I’ve seen it everywhere and have heard praises shouted about it. I read that it had a bit of fantasy to it, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m really trying to branch out of my traditional fantasy genre, which is what I grew up on. I hardly read anything else when I was younger. I ventured to horror for a bit, but, honestly, I got bored and went through a very dark time of not reading much. It’s when I picked up a fantasy book I’d read over and over in high school that my love of reading burst to life once again. I knew then I was just a crazy reader who would never like to step outside her favorite genre. I don’t like to admit that. I want to be a well rounded reader, but sometimes you just have to accept who you are and be proud of it. So, I’m a diehard fantasy reader. I’ll step out now and again, but 9 times out of 10, I won’t love anything outside traditional/dark fantasy. This is part of those 9. It just didn’t hold my attention. I had to push myself to finish it. I procrastinated. Sadly—though I honestly can’t point out specifics—I just didn’t like the storyline. I really wanted to like the main protagonist, and there were times I felt a bit of something for him, but overall I was reading a story and I knew it. It was a story about a boy who got mixed up in some bad stuff from another place/world, stuff I didn’t find particularly interesting. His friend helps him through it. If you break it down, it has elements that I should have enjoyed. Yet, I was distant through the entire thing. Maybe it was the protagonist’s age, but I’ve read coming of age books before that I love, and some started when the character was around seven. So I’m not sure that’s it either. I’m extremely irritated by the fact that I can’t articulate why I didn’t care for it. I wish I could put my finger on it. I really do.

So, this review probably doesn’t help anyone. I can’t say much else except that I’m an extremely picky reader, and this just wasn’t suited for my taste.

About Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. A self-described “feral child who was raised in libraries,” Gaiman credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading: “I wouldn’t be who I am without libraries. I was the sort of kid who devoured books, and my happiest times as a boy were when I persuaded my parents to drop me off in the local library on their way to work, and I spent the day there. I discovered that librarians actually want to help you: they taught me about interlibrary loans.”

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