Saturday, February 10, 2018

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


The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is fantastical story about an adult remembering events from his childhood.

I picked this one up when I saw it at a local thrift shop. I almost started reading it time and time again, but something kept making me wait. When the book was chosen for my book club, I finally gave it a read.

Unfortunately, this one fell very flat for me.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


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.


My thoughts:
There were so many things about this book that I could have loved, but they all just didn't have much oomph. For example, I normally would have loved learning more about all of the fantastical elements as the boy was exposed to them. I would have normally loved the mystery of trying to figure out what was going on. And of course I would have loved the darker tone that was hiding just under the surface throughout, but only made itself known a handful of times.

But I was bored. So very bored. 

Almost everything just fell so darn flat for me. I didn't think it was very well written at all. The pacing dragged. It was very repetitive. I didn't care about any of the characters because I didn't feel that they were very well developed... which of course can work well in some books, but it didn't work for me here.

If this wasn't the book that I was hosting for my book club, I wouldn't have finished it. 

However, to end on a lighter note: I did enjoy all of the little bits and pieces that hinted toward other things. Some of these were quite obvious from the start, but others only sank in once I had finished the book. This is definitely one that I could see people re-reading simply to catch more of those instances.

I absolutely love stories that move in a full circle! So I really loved the last sentence of the book. 


*POTENTIAL SPOILER BELOW*
Perhaps it was an afterimage, I decided, or a ghost: something that had stirred in my mind, for a moment, so powerfully that I believed it to be real, but now was gone, and faded into the past like a memory forgotten, or a shadow into the dusk. 
*POTENTIAL SPOILER ABOVE*


My favorite passages:
Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good.

We picked some pea pods, opened them all and ate the peas inside. Peas baffled me. I could not understand why grown-ups would take things that tasted so good when they were freshly-picked and raw, and put them in tin cans, and make them revolting.


My final thoughts:
Unfortunately a miss for me. Though I can definitely see why others absolutely love this one.



Thanks for reading!
What were your thoughts on this book if you have read it? Have you read any of Neil Gailman's other works?
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22 comments:

  1. I am sorry this one fell flat for you, Erica. I loved it when I read it, but I know not every book appeals to everyone.

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    1. I think I may give it another go at some point in the future. I think it's one for me that I just may need to read twice to appreciate more :)

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  2. I've read a few of his books, including The Ocean at the End of the Lane and they've all fallen flat for me. I think it's a personal taste thing because they're obviously well written and lots of people love them.

    Have you read any of his other books?

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    1. Yeah totally! I think I just may not like his adult books, but we'll see! I definitely want to read more of his work. I LOVED The Graveyard book and I enjoyed Coraline and Norse Mythology.

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  3. Sorry this one was not for you. I haven't really read anything by him but the first two books in his graphic novel series and I liked those. I have American Gods I need to get to eventually. Well, I hope your next book is a lot better for you. Oh, and I love your picture! :)

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    1. I want to give American Gods a go at some point! :) And thank you!! :)

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  4. Sorry this one was a miss. I may pick it up eventually but if you didn't like it, I don't have high hopes as we usually have similar thoughts (Chalk Man aside :) I've heard some good things about it but also some negatives. I think some people love it just because it's Gaiman.

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    1. I hope you have better luck than I did! :) And yeah... I kinda felt the same way. I do love some of his other work, but I definitely wouldn't rank him in my top favorite authors.

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  5. I'm sorry this one was a miss for you Erica! I really loved both this and American Gods, but other Gaiman books I've read were less than impressive to me. I guess when your reputation as an author is built on creating so many different, fantastical worlds, those settings won't always be a hit with everyone...

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  6. Oh, darn. Sorry you didn't like this one, Erica! I've never read a Gaiman book before so I can't really say, but I did watch Stardust, and that was super unique and imaginative for me, so it sucks that this one was boring for you. :(

    - Aimee @ Aimee, Always

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    1. I was pretty bummed, but I'm definitely looking forward to trying more of his work! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. This definitely wasn't my strongest Gaiman read, it was just...odd. I don't know if I can say I was bored, maybe just confused by everything.

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  8. Dang, that's too bad. Personally, I love it - especially the Hempstock women. :)

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  9. Great review, I'm sorry this one fell flat for you, I really loved and enjoyed this one myself peronally. But I can understand why you didn't like it so much. I hope your next read is much better Erica. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post my friend.

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    1. It's all good! I'm still looking forward to my book clubs discussion about it! :)

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  10. Such a shame! I've been meaning to get into Neil Gaiman books for a while now but it sounds like this won't be the one for me to start with. Especially as the pacing was dragged and you were bored.

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    1. Yeah... One of my book club friends suggested trying this one on audio, so I may do that soon! I would recommend starting with The Graveyard Book! That one is by far my favorite :)

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  11. Aw man I am so bummed this fell flat for you! I was so sure you'd love it! It happens though! <3

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