April 18, 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Source: Bought
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, 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, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

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. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath the rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.

I'm not going to lie and tell you that I thought The Ocean at the End of the Lane was brilliant, though I do think that Neil Gaiman is brilliant. To tell you the truth, until about the last eighth of the book, I thought that this was going to be a two star read. Nothing had really grabbed me, and not a thing made sense to me.

But after I read that last eighth, everything kind of just fell in together, and it all made sense and it was the Neil Gaiman I was used to. So I don't understand why the first seven eighths didn't do that for me. Actually, I think I do... but it makes me seem slightly close-minded. It was the main character. And as far as I can tell, he doesn't have a name. (I didn't notice it while reading, but I'm noticing that now.)

I just... couldn't connect with the boy that this was happening to - it could have been his age, or it might just be that I didn't care for the boy a bit.

My overall thoughts on The Ocean at the End of the Lane, according to my notes, appear to go something like "this is weird" said in different variations, throughout the entirety of the book. Many crazy things happened, and lots of weird ones... and I never really felt like I got the complete story. At one point, my head even started to hurt while reading.

The ending was definitely the best part of it all - everything made sense, and it even gave me a few philosophical questions to ponder, like "are the Hempstocks a representation of the three fates" or "is the ocean made of everything". All in all, this was a very weird read. And honestly, I'd recommend Stardust to you way before I recommended this one.


  1. Sorry this one didn't really do it for you. Sometimes books are just too weird and it's hard to get into them. Glad you enjoyed the last bit though. Thanks for the review!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

  2. The only Neil Gaiman book I've read is Stardust, and I had a real hard time with that one. I couldn't manage to read it without reading it out loud. If I tried reading any other way, I just didn't seem to comprehend what the words said...
    Too bad this one didn't live up to your expectations - though at least the last eighth did! :D