Thursday, August 8, 2013
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, pub. June 2013, 181 pg.
Rating: 5000/5 stars
I finished reading Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane about a week ago, and it's taken me up until now to feel that I can clearly tell you how I feel. I was so overwhelmed with how amazing the novel was that I couldn't think straight, and every attempt to blog about it turned into an incoherent jumble. I hope this is clearer than my previous attempts, but I know that no matter how hard I try, I won't do this book justice.
When I heard that Neil Gaiman was going to be releasing a new book this summer, I emitted squeals of glee and ran in crazy circles around my apartment. He's one of my all-time favorite authors, and I could not wait to read something new.
And then, of course, I got caught up in other books and other things and momentarily forgot that The Ocean at the End of the Lane was released in June, so it took me far longer than I would have liked to get around to reading it. But from the moment I picked it up, I was entirely enchanted. In his newest book, Gaiman creates a brilliant combination of fairy tale, coming-of-age, and retrospection.
After many years away, our narrator (who I don't believe is ever named in the story) returns to his childhood home for a funeral. Needing some time alone, he goes for a drive and ends up on the street where he grew up. His body automatically guides him to the farm at the end of the lane, and while visiting his old neighbor, long-forgotten memories of magic and monsters slowly begin to return.
Neil Gaiman is a wonder with words. He has this beautiful, elegant, witty and yet somehow still conversational way of writing that make all of his books a joy to read. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no different.
The book focuses on the narrator at seven years old, a character who is simultaneously adorably child-like and wise beyond his years. He prefers the company of his kitten over other children his age and would rather read than play rugby. He has a wild imagination like so many other kids, and he reads any book he can get his hands on.
It's impossible not to get caught up in the magic of this novel. It sweeps you up and doesn't let you go, even after you've finished reading. Even now, a week after I turned the final page, I can't comprehend how one person can write something that was so incredible and indescribable. Gaiman creates a secret hidden world just beyond the borders of our own reality, and this book leaves you looking for the fuzzy boundaries where everyday life ends and the impossible begins.
I can't recommend this book highly enough, especially to those who love fantasy or sci-fi or who have enjoyed Gaiman's other works. If I had enough money, I'd buy every copy I could get my hands on and hand them out to everyone I met.
Have you ever read a book that was beyond your wildest expectations? Let me know in the comments!