Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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

Rating: 4.5-stars
Genre: Contemporary-fiction, Speculative-fiction/Fantasy
Synopsis: A middle aged man returns home for a funeral and begins to recall the fantastical events that had happened in his childhood. A very eerie and magical Gaimanesque story.

It's hard to review this book because I listened to the audiobook, but it was nice because Neil Gaiman read it and it's always nice to hear authors read their work. The story is about a middle-aged narrator returning to his childhood home and starts to remember his extraordinary childhood and his extraordinary friend Lettie Hempstock. The story is eerie and peculiar, beautiful and tragically haunting. I think I came out a little traumatized--which is a good thing in this case, because rarely do books really ever leave a mark on me.

The main character is weak and bookish, but brave in his childishly pure way. I really enjoyed the whole cast of characters, especially the Hempstock women. What I like about this book in particular is the ending. It's perfect. Rarely do books have any sort of satisfactory ending, but this one does. In fact, I think just about everything in this book is done pretty damn perfectly.

The book started off slow. Admittedly, the synopsis make it seem kind of boring, but it is Neil Gaiman after all, and I have faith that the man can deliver. And deliver he did. Gaiman really captures the consciousness of childhood, particularly its joys and anxieties. This is a story that I definitely will have to read on print before properly reviewing. If you have read other Gaiman stories, you will find yourself immersed in a familiar atmosphere. This book is targeted for more adult audiences, but it still deals mainly with childhood.

This is a story filled with magic, like actual magic. Don't be fooled by the very contemporary literary fiction-ness of the synopsis. For example, a worm hole develops in the protagonist's foot. Is that psychedelic or what?

The ocean at the end of the lane is actually a pond, or is it? I think most of us in our childhood have had these flights of fancy where our imagination gets the best of us and Gaiman is really good at utilizing our childhood experiences and then bringing them back to us as adults (though I'm sure children would enjoy this book as well). I guess if I had to use one word to describe the book it would be: nostalgic.

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