I'm a corporate training consultant and adjunct professor who loves to read! I'm always looking for the next big thing.
I was so lucky to have stumbled upon this book. I was fortunate enough to read the first part of the book as a preview that was included in another one of Neil Gaiman's books. Once I read that preview, I knew that I would read the entire book when it was published. I am glad that I did--it was great!
This book tells the story of a many who returns to his childhood hometown for a funeral. While there, he recalls a strange memory from his childhood that involved a neighborhood girl and her duck pond, which she always referred to as her ocean. The recollections are--at first--very pleasant; however, they take a frightening turn before too long.
Most of the story is told from the perspective of the young boy--the unnamed boy in the memory. Because of this, the book starts off very nicely. In many ways, I was reminded of my own childhood by some of the memories. This is what drew me into the story. It is not until slightly further along in the story that I realized this book was no longer just a childhood tale.
The boy's neighbors are supernatural beings in some way (which is never made entirely clear). Through a rather unfortunate sequence of events, the boy gets wrapped up in the supernatural occurrences around his neighborhood. That's when things start to get very dark. There is a particular scene in the book involving the boy's babysitter that was so creepy that it actually made me cringe while reading it--and believe it or not, I think that's a good thing!
I haven't read too many other Neil Gaiman books, but I will certain do so now that I read this one. The story was interesting, and the characters are quite memorable. If his other books have these same qualities and can also creep me out just a bit, then I'll be in for many more reads by Neil Gaiman.
I was captivated by the picture on the cover and the brief blurb I read. Without any other info, I set about listening. Gaiman is a very good writer and an even better narrator - so it was easy to be captivated by the story telling - at least early on. I kept waiting for the story to become more interesting and to take some unexpected twist to keep me interested. It never did. Instead, by the end of the story, I developed a new appreciation for what it meant to write for a young audience and decided that it was no coincidence that the opening of the book was a quote was from Maurice Sendak. So - if you are interested in a contemporary children's story with magic, good, and evil, try this one. If you are looking for a more substantive story and you are not inclined to listen to children's stories, try something else.
I read and listen to books. I drink tea. I sleep like a cat and wished I lived in Hawaii.
I have been hesitant to read Neil Gaiman even though he gets rave reviews. Fantasy is not my favorite type of genre or my second favorite or even my third favorite. So, when this book came out and it was short, I knew this was my initiation book into the world of Neil Gaiman. This book is written so beautifully. I was swept away at the writing style and the superb narration. The first half of the book was a 5 star listen, hands down. Gaiman did a great job introducing and building up the characters while laying the foundation of the story. The second half was a 4 star listen, only because this was the more fantastical part of the novel and while I could still appreciate it, it wasn't the first half. I loved this book because even though it was told through the eyes of a 7 year old boy, it still came across as an adult fictional book. This book makes you remember what it was like to be a child, all the safe and fun parts and all the scary parts. As an adult, it made me appreciate all of those experiences, but also made me feel like they were so far away. All the imagination surrounding the Hempstock women, our protagonist's neighbors, is quirky and charming. I also give props to all the quotes on the love of books, the kitty cats and the British slang. This is a book that I would listen to again.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
Neil Gainman writes odd books. This we know. This might well be the oddest one I've read. I've tried three or four times to describe it to friends and failed. But it absolutely casts a spell over the reader. It's creepy, touching, and very compelling. I think I could say it was about a child's experience with evil. I would not hand it to anyone under the age of 18.
What it has is the child's clarity about what they see, and the honesty to state it. It's a stunning book about evil, good, and the perception of both. And a fascinating statement as to how much of that we can, as adults take in.
He is an astonishing reader as well.
I really enjoyed this story, I enjoyed it so much that as soon as I read the last line I started the book over again. Yep, 2 readings in 2 days….skill! Ahem, I mean, it helps that I have the audiobook and Neil Gaiman reads to me as I push papers around my desk.
When I read Coraline, I came into it thinking it was a story for children and I had that mode in my head. There was aspects of that story that were fun and exciting for a child, but when an adult reads it they are kind of freaked out.
Ocean is a book meant for adults, so the darker aspects hit home in a different way. We have all been children. We have all been afraid of the dark or believed that there really were things that were magic. As adults we believe what we can see (or we are supposed to). The fact that the events touched both the adults in the story and the child made it especially frightening. You are lifted out of the story and begin to wonder, is it the imagination of a seven year old trying to cope with what his family is going through, or is this flea real? That uncertainty is what is so exciting about this book. The Hemstock women help keep the story from being too dark. Gaiman does an amazing job of using these women to balance the terror he has invoked with their warmth. Their farm becomes a symbol of refuge and comfort. The young narrator comes to them for help and in Letty he finds a protector.
Letty protects our young narrator, but never explains why she does it. This point in the story begs the question: Was I worth it? I guess what I mean is that the narrator is an adult when we begin the story. He is not at the best place in his life and when these memories begin to rush to him it makes him evaluate if he was worth protecting. Let’s take it a step further. When we were children someone protected us. They did this because there was an expectation / hope of the persons we would become as adults. Have we met that expectation? Is that a bar that we should measure ourselves by? Or perhaps they had no motive and just wanted to make us feel safe.
This is why I read Neil Gaiman’s books. I get so much more from them than an amazing story. I hope you pick up this novel and that you enjoy it as much as I have.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Gaiman's short novel seems like a strange combination of Virginia Woolf (memory and philosophical introspection) mixed with a contemporary angst about money and the value of one life -- all riding the crazy three-beat narrative tail of Gaiman's own fantastic world of magic, witches and time.
The wonder of Gaiman is his ability to quickly transport the reader with both his emotional reach as his imaginative depth. He isn't satisfied in telling a fantastic story, he really wants to pull the reader by their gut and grab them by their insecurities and worries. He doesn't want to paint a myth-by-numbers story, but instead wants shadows and flashes from his story to resonate with his readers. He seems satisfied to have his novel's truth/meaning flash briefly like the guanine sheen from a school of fish or appear suddenly in the back of your throat like an old, lost sixpence.
A novel that is both worth the credit but still seems too short. Gaiman is a rare author that narrates his stories at the level they deserve.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
This is a short book that will have you completely captivated within 10 minutes of starting the book. If you've read Gaiman before then you will quickly recognize the tone (a bit of the dark childhood mystery of Coraline or The Graveyard Book), but more adult themes and the story and perspective of The Ocean at the End of the Lane are unique. Creepy, ironic, with swatches of dark humor, The Ocean is much more thought provoking with a strong fable quality to it than Coraline or Graveyard. I'm not a big fan of horror or monster stories, but I am very attracted to stories that can invoke the eerie chill. Gaiman does it as well as anything since the Twilight Zone for me and I would put The Ocean at the top of the list. Not because the "evil ones" are so frightening or mystical, but more because I could so completely identify with the protagonist - both the child of the past story and the man of the present story. The fears that both boy and man really confront are not the mystical "spooks", but the real life small horrors that we all must deal with. (Is there any monster as frightening as seeing a parent disciplining out of rage?) You could write multiple essays on the many insights mixed into this little jewel of a book. (My favorite being, "There aren't any grown-ups" - Lettie explaining how we become adults but never get to that all-knowing, fearless place of the mythical "grown-up" children aspire to.) But, you just want to know if you should you use a credit. Quick answer - absolutely! Unforgettable characters, a magical story to be savored on many levels, quick-paced and surprising plot, satisfying conclusion, and the narration of the Man himself. Most authors shouldn't narrate, but Gaiman's voice conveys the sweet, ironic quality of his work as well as anyone I can imagine. Highly recommended!
From Wilm., De. Love reading and audiobooks. Other interests include cooking, attending cultural events, my dogs, birding, music and movies.
My first Gaiman read, so I don't know if this is his typical style or not. Somewhat hard to follow, wordy and drawn out. Don't love it, but don't hate it either. Willing to give it another try.; another Gaiman book that is.