Audie Award Finalist, Narration by the Author or Authors, 2014
Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014
Sussex, England: A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. 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. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. 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.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. A stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
©2013 Neil Gaiman (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
I'm having a really hard time with my rating on this one. As I described to a friend, I more than just "liked it" (three stars), but I don't think I "really liked it" (four stars). I quite enjoyed it, but there's no three and a half stars. I'm so torn! I'll defer to four, because that feels better, but know, kind reader, that that four stands for a strong three and a half.
I used Whispersync for Voice to alternate between the Kindle and Audible editions. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic narrator, and I really enjoyed listening to him read me his words. He's also a terribly talented writer, imaginative and magical and able to evoke wonder and other emotions in a way few I've read can.
I have to first note that this book is surprisingly short. While being billed as his first "adult" novel (although I'm admittedly unclear on what makes a "young adult" novel different than a novel, flat out, aside from marketing speak) in a while, I'm reasonably sure that more than a few Animorphs novels were longer. And that's not necessarily a downside, but it was a little surprising.
What was there was great, though. It was whimsical and (I'll keep using this word) magical, as a man revisits areas special to him as a child and remembers the (for lack of a better word) adventures he and a very interesting friend had.
In his Afterword, he does say that this began as a short story before growing. And it does feel like it. While a lot of the ideas and concepts really benefit from being unexplained and even only half-glimpsed sometimes, there felt like there could be a lot more story than what there was. Lettie and the narrator's friendship felt strangely rushed, and I didn't feel like I could really fall in love with her character specifically, as opposed to her family in general. Maybe that was the point.
There were some notable quotations from the book that I loved, but at the end of the day, I feel like I've enjoyed a good meal; it was tasty, went down well, and while a few notes will stick with me, now that it's done it's just a pleasant memory.
It's short enough that I can easily recommend it to just about anyone. I'm not sure it's traditional summer reading, exactly, but it felt like a good, easy and touching read for a calm day when you're looking for something with a little more heart than a popcorn novel.
This is the best best audiobook I've listened so far because of Gaiman's performance. So touching, precise and well delivered.
It'd say Ocean is a simpler version of American Gods but in the sense of peaking behind the curtain again and showing things there are and things that can be a whole lot more than we see. It also brings that clash of worlds feeling constant in Gaiman's work in such a peculiar and touching way that it's impossible not to fall in love with.
Mixing memories and make belief, Gaiman narrates trivial moments of a young boy's life with precision and truthfulness. When the protagonist has to make a run for his life, and down is the only possibility, you cheer for him, you want to go in and help him climb down, you share his fears and hopes. It's very intense. So is the prologue that ties it all together and changes the perspective of the whole story, specially if you wisely decided NOT TO read the sinopses.
Yes, I wish I could have listened it all non-stop.
Great sound quality, working well on external speakers and several types of headphones. Good editing.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a real treat. Neil Gaiman's narration gives a haunting personal quality to the piece. His voice driving the story makes it feel deeply intimate and adds an extra layer of interest to the (somewhat sedate) plot line. I do wish the book was a bit meatier. It went by so quickly, I was left wishing for something more. This can be seen as a positive or a negative, depending on the mood of the listener. It is a slow book with lots of descriptive language. I recommend listening to this book without multitasking. I found if most enjoyable when I listened undistracted, and could most enjoy the language and story unfold.
This was like a Doctor Who story - if the Doctor was a 12 year old girl and the companion was a 7 year old boy, and the TARDIS is a duck pond! Other than that, exactly he same! As only can be told by Neil Gaiman!
Lettie, the 12 year old, who shows what it is to sacrifice for a loved one.
I only regret that it was as short as it was. I wanted to stay in that world longer. I also regret that I will, yet again, have another lengthy wait for Neil's next novel!
The only author I know that could also be a professional narrator, arguably the only author in last 10 years that would compare to Steven King...
To Neil Gaiman devotees, I would say that The Ocean at the End of the Lane is as magical as the rest, and as usual, transports us from customary surroundings through unassuming tokens to magic deep and dark. To find small fault, I thought this novel without the same degree of character relationship that we see in his very best works, like Neverwhere, or for novels with child protagonists, The Graveyard Book. Although the inventiveness and language are as good, I found myself less involved with the characters.
To those who have not read Neil Gaiman, this is a very good book and a fine choice to start with, but I still recommend anyone not familiar with his work to start with Neverwhere
Can't stop listening
Clearly, this is a writer, and an extraordinary performer of his own work. I wasn't in the mood for such dark and scary stuff, but that is entirely my fault, not his. As my first read of Gaimen, I had not expected the dreamy landscape that blurs reality and it took me awhile to immerse myself in it. As others have pointed out, it is almost too short. Just as I had my bearings, it was over. I will say, it captures an almost forgotten sense of how we all struggled between our make-believe and our reality at some point in our lives. One of the better childhood perspectives I have encountered.
I tend to steer away from audiobooks read by the author, but am delighted to tell you that Neil Gaiman is wonderful as narrator of this fascinating book. Typically, I don't rate or review books because I'm lazy and rely on those good people who aren't when chosing a book for myself. Because this story SO good on all levels, I thought I'd give props even though I'm only halfway through. I am captivated and wanted to share that with you all.
The Ocean is similar to American Gods in its imaginative take on the fringes of real life, especially when seen through the narrator-child's eyes.
Few authors can perform their work like Gaiman. Gaiman's soulful reading of his work draws one ever further into the story.
I love Neil Gaiman -- his stories are so fresh and original, his characters so beautifully drawn, and his voice makes me swoon. My only complaint about this story is that it's too short! This isn't really a novel; it's a novella. I was so sorry to have it come to an end, but so satisfied by the end, too. How I love the Hempstock women! Gaiman gives his female characters the depth, strength and complexity that they deserve but often fail to get at the hands of male authors. This is a dark story with some creepy details (that worm!) that I can't get out of my mind -- definitely not for kids, but it's not a horror story, either. Another wonderful tale from a master storyteller.
Quite high up!
I'd say it compares to most of what Gaiman writes. If you're a Gaiman fan, you'll most likely enjoy this book. If you're not a Gaiman fan, then I guess you haven't read any of his books... :)
There's something special about authors reading their own books, particularly when they do it as well as Gaiman does.
Yes. I almost did.
Time and time again Neil Gaiman shows what an good writer he is. This is no exception.
"Neil Gaiman does it again"
This book is more in line with The Graveyard Book rather than American God from a Gaiman perspective if you are a fan. It is very well told by Gaiman himself and the story is excellent. His writing is very clever and you won't be let down if you decide to buy/cash in a credit. That said I think that the Graveyard Book is better, but some people may prefer this one for reasons I can't say without giving too much away!
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