Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Review: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

RATING: 4 napkins

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. (courtesy of Goodreads.com)

(courtesy of Goodreads)

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

My only exposure to Mr. Gaiman's work, embarrassingly enough, is from the 2 movies that were made from his books; Stardust, which as far as I can glean, is only a Disney version of the book but I did end up liking, and Coraline, which I did like as well. Whether it's a good thing that this is a first Gaiman read for me or not, I'm not really sure. All I know is that I enjoyed this a lot for the vivid story-telling. And this may not make complete sense, but I almost likened the experience to watching the movie, Big Fish, a movie I truly enjoyed. 

It's such a simple story, and yet, not really. It's a childhood story from a memory of an older man. It's a mixture of reality and fantasy (or is it?). The viewpoint of the main character's 7-year old self is older for his age in some regards but then again, it's appropriate in some, keeping in mind this coming from the memory of an older version of the main character.

"What you remembered? Probably. More or less. Different people remember things differently, and you'll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not. You stand two of you lot next to each other, and you could be continents away for all it means anything."

I'm not even sure if there were lessons to be learned, if not learned at all, but I don't think that was the point of the story (or is it? hmmm...). All I know is that I was engrossed with the story the whole time...

"Adults follow paths. Children explore..." 


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