Neil Gaiman is one of the most interesting storytellers of our time. From his award winning Sandman comic book series to his award winning novels like American Gods he has shown an amazing ability to look beneath the surface and give us a dream like experience of reality. His newest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no different. It is often hard to tell what is real and what is a dream. Or is it all a dream?
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is, at one level, the story of the narrator as a seven year old boy. The novel begins as the narrator is taking a drive down memory lane after a funeral. He drives past his childhood home and then finds himself going to the home of a childhood friend. He goes around to the back and sits down. As he sits he begins to remember the events that took place when he was seven. The seven year old boy is very familiar to me. At one level he is a reconstruction of Neil Gaiman as a child. I see myself in the boy as well. I too found my friends in books and preferred their company to that of other children. Like the narrator and the author some of the first books I remember are the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis.
The world of this seven year old is turned upside down when the man who is renting a room in their house commits suicide. This suicide wakes up something primordial. At the scene of the suicide the narrator meets Lettie Hempstock. At first Lettie seems to be nothing more than an eleven year old girl living with her mother and grandmother. These three women are far from normal. They are something larger and more powerful. By accident the narrator lets a great evil through into our world. Now, with the help of the Hempstock women he has to try and contain this evil and send it back where it came from.
This is more than just a story of childhood fantasy. It is the story of good against evil. Of powers beyond our control invading our world and trying to turn it upside down. It is the outside world trying to rob the innocence of children. It is the story of losing something, of something being taken as we grow older. Actually it is a story of childhood fantasy. It’s not the awakening to evil, it is the realization of good. Gaiman lists G. K. Chesterton as one of his childhood influences. Perhaps this quote from Chesterton’s essay “Red Angel” would help illuminate this book:
“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”
This is an amazing book. I am not sure that it would be appropriate for small children. I say I am not sure, not because it is frightening. I think that this book is more than that. I think that this book is for those who need to find the belief in something bigger than themselves.
My favorite genres are absurdist humor, Sci-fi & modern fantasy, but, as you can see, I'll read just about anything. Don't mind the typos.
Gaiman does a great job narrating his tale. The story is a little flat and a little short. Great author just didn't hit the mark.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
When I selected this book after listening to the free preview, I expected to enjoy a story full of Gaiman magic and whimsy, narrated to perfection by the expressive author. I got that and so very much more. This is a truly magical exploration of dreams and nightmares, fear and courage, youth and timeless age, and the ultimate sacrifice for things that matter more than one’s own life. What might at first glance appear to be merely a fantasy of childhood, for me was deeply moving, woven together with almost mystical wisdom and heart, and the often asked question "is it really true . . ." Children can be so very wise.
I rarely re-read books once I’ve finished. I think this will be an exception. There are layers to be re-examined, and I really loved these people, especially the children, not simply written, but created, inhabited by Gaiman. His words and his voice in my ears made them real. He IS the little boy. He is a master craftsman and this is a work of art.
I liked this book from start to finish! I usually listen to lengthy books because I like the charactor development the length allows. This was a marvelous exception. Wonderful imagination from the author and I loved the characters. Well worth the read.
I love books.
I think when an author like Neil Gaiman is also a brilliant narrator, it definitely adds to the story to listen to it being told.
Gaiman has a wonderful reading voice, and is a brilliant story-teller. You can feel assured that when he narrates his own story, you are hearing it in exactly the way it is intended.
This story is engaging and unique. It easily takes the listener into the world of the characters and provides for an entertaining experience.
To say this book is different is definitely true. This was my first Neil Gaiman read and it would have been perfect for Halloween. The story is entertaining, but it takes getting into the story to really decide what it’s about. It’s simply fantasy, yet it does grab your attention and makes the reader wonder what’s going to happen next. And this is what makes it interesting. I couldn’t give it a 4 or 5, but it was a solid 3 for me. Good, but not close to great.
Obviously, lots of readers seemed to like this, but this book did nothing for me. After the intriguing first few chapters, it just spun further and further into fantasyland and seemed to go nowhere. The prose was colorful, but put to no purpose.
I am going to think long and hard before diving into a book that deals with fantasy or children's fears.
looking for a good read
I did not want it to end and i want to know if the ocean ever heals the girl
the main character. He was believable as a 7 yr old boy
No I would leave it as it is as you get it at the end
this is fabulous fantasy with meanderings of truth. Excellent book
If you like your fiction to make sense, then this book is not for you.
The story begins with the suicide death of an opal miner. Shortly after his death, strange things start happening. For example, a fish dies because of a coin that mysteriously appears in its stomach. What, exactly, is the connection between the opal miner and the fish? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
I did not like this book. The author did not seem to have a clear, coherent vision of the ties between different parts of his story. Overall, the fable did not amount to much. If you're a logical thinker, you may want to skip this one.