September 12, 2013
The Ocean At The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Review)
Author: Neil Gaiman
First published: 2013
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
Everybody seems to be crazy about The Ocean At The End of the Lane, so I feel a little uncomfortable writing a 3-star review for this new Neil Gaiman novel. I hope nobody will hate me for this :)
Let's start with the positive, anyway. Gaiman's language is awesome, there is no doubt to it. So the writing is what I really enjoyed. I also liked the beginning: a middle-aged man comes to the village where he grew up and remembers the time when he was 7. The child's perspective is very believable, which is a rare virtue in books, and some of the fears and anxieties the young protagonist is experiencing are very familiar and easily recognizable. I think I'm one of many readers who can really identify with the boy.
So the beginning, dealing with life of a normal 7-year-old boy, is wonderful, but then... Then the weird stuff starts to happen. Don't get me wrong: I like weird stuff, especially if it's Gaiman-written, but in this novel it just didn't work for me. I guess the main problem was that it was not subtle enough. Spooky flying ragged things? Meh. Scary black birds tearing reality apart? Again, not very impressive. So in the end I wished this book to be less obviously paranormal and the events to be less cumbersome. Evil housemaid, for example, was good, really good. Her wickedness could be a child's imagination, or she could really be some evil creature. What is real and what is an imagination of a child who is too fond of books? More of this kind of suspense could have worked much better than the ragged things.
In my book:
It is an good book, but most of the fantastic things didn't work for me. The writing is awesome, though, and makes it worth reading anyway.
P.S. We'll have a discussion of The Ocean At The End of the Lane at Coursera Fantasy and Sci Fi book club this weekend. It's gonna be fun!