Saturday, January 4, 2014

Review: "The Ocean At The End Of The Lane" by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
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.

First Sentences: It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn't very big. Lettie Hempstock said it was an ocean, but I knew that was silly. She said they'd come here across the ocean from the old country.
My Thoughts:
This book. Just. Wow. I usually don't give these kind of books the time of day, especially if they are filed under the 'Adult' genre. After reading the summary on Goodreads, I felt like I would be very confused by this story, yet something compelled me to purchase the ebook at that very moment. From the first few chapters, I was intrigued. The book starts out with the main character (whom is nameless) returning to his childhood home town for a funeral, only to find himself at the end of the lane at the farm of an old friend, Lettie Hempstock. Let's take a quick rewind to the part where I stated that the main character hasn't a name. I absolutely love this factor. A main character without a name? How unique! Any who, after he arrives there, he sits by the duck pond on the Hempstock farm, reminiscing about his childhood. At this point, the book goes back in time to his seventh birthday, where the story really starts. This isn't a fast paced book as your everyday 'fantasy' would be. Yet, somehow, it captures your interest and can easily be read in a single sitting.
Could there be candle flames burning under the water? There could. I knew that, when I was in the ocean, and I even know how. I understood it just as I understood the Dark Matter, the material of the universe that makes up everything that must be there but we cannot find. I found myself thinking of an ocean running beneath the whole universe, like the dark seawater that laps beneath the wooden boards of an old pier: an ocean that stretches from forever to forever and is still small enough to fit inside a bucket..(ebook 78%)
The nameless main character is very easy to become attached to. I found myself, on several occasions, feeling as if I was the boy. More than once through the story did I feel the nostalgia flowing from the experiences through the boy's eyes, his mind. Lettie Hempstock was also a character that I found myself loving, as maybe a big sister just trying to look out for me. Or with Ginnie Hempstock, a motherly figure, always cooking a comfort meal. And Old Mrs. Hempstock, the wise grandmother who's age isn't set and stone, but will always be wise beyond her years.
Neil Gaiman's writing style is one I've never seen before. He somehow manages to make you believe a child has written the story, yet has the fluidity of an English professor. It was so easy to read and make sense of, and didn't seem too rehearsed, as if he'd just grabbed a notebook and wrote it all out in one sitting while it was fresh in his mind. I loved it. The writing was absolutely beautiful.
Overall, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane was the book I needed to bring me out of my reading slump. It is the bleeding image of childhood. A reminder of what it means to be human, naive in all our glory. How a small duck pond can be as large as an ocean. And, how sometimes, we don't always know what lays at the end of the lane.

1 comment:

  1. A short fantasy tale written for adults. Finished it in one sitting, just couldn't put it down. If you like Gaiman, it's a must read.
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