Neil Gaiman is probably the most popular author I can think of. At first, I rolled my eyes and was very hesitant to read anything he’d written…until I did, and jumped right on that bandwagon. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is actually the first work of his I’ve read in print form – the rest I’ve listened to on audiobook. I’ve read Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, Anansi Boys (narrated by Lenny Henry), Stardust, and now, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which I read in the beautiful hardback copy::
(all audiobooks were narrated by the author unless specified otherwise).
Gaiman’s writing style is unmistakeable and quite straight forward, making it easy for all ages to enjoy.
I have to say, of the works I’ve read so far, Neverwhere is quite my favorite. To me, it was the most clever, the most gritty, and had the best sub-plots. The adventure was non-stop and interesting, and the layers of the story fell together perfectly. If you are looking for where to start with Gaiman’s work, that would be my recommendation, although I hear that American Gods is his true ‘masterpiece work’. I’m saving that one to break through my next streak of ‘so-so’ books (you all know what I’m talking about).
I saw an interview with the author when he was promoting The Ocean at the End of the Lane where he said he wrote this book for his wifey, Amanda Palmer (Aw). He said she wasn’t the greatest fan of is usual fantastical style of magic, mysticism, and flights of fancy, but that she preferred stories rooted in the real world. Now, after reading the book, that comment leaves me quite confused. This book is chaulk full of magic and mysticism. So now I’m curious, what did she think of it?
This book is about a young boy’s adventures with a girl a few years older than him (he, 7; her, 11), who lives at the end of his lane. The story is sparked by the sucicde of a man who was boarding with the boy’s family, which leads him to meet the girl called Lettie, who believes she has an Ocean in her backyard that our boy says is the size of a duck pond. Adventure ensues. The book contains alternate worlds, inhuman creatures that cutivate pure evil, and a trio of women (reminescent of the ancient Greek ‘Fates’) who fight against them. It begins with the adult version of the boy looking back upon Lettie’s proclaimed ‘Ocean’ and remembering his boyhood adventures which fill the remaining pages.
I’m disappointed to say this isn’t my favorite of Gaiman’s works. I found a lot of similarities in the tone of this story to that of Neverwhere, which I greatly preferred. This story reminded me of a short story – there weren’t really any sub-plots, but just one boy’s great adventure, and only the things that concerned it were included, making it less complex and difficult to connect emotionally on a deeper level. It didn’t really strike me as an age specific story, although I’m not sure what they marketed it as. I think kids as young as 12 might enjoy this book (so long as they’re not scared by the super-natural).
Taking Gaiman’s other works into consideration, I gave this novella 3 stars on Goodreads. Despite my lack of preferrance to this specific work, I still think Gaiman is one of the greatest authors of our time. His writing style is extrodinarily unique, being both simple and all-encompasing at once (Those of you who’ve read him will hopefully know what I mean by that). I also find it incredible that the stories he writes are enjoyable for literally any age; they’re pure entertainment. I’ve recently ordered a book of his short stoires, Smoke & Mirrors which I’m excited to read. Although The Ocean at the End of the Lane didn’t knock it out of the park for me, I’m still eager to see what kind of clever fantastical world he’ll come up with next.