The Ocean at the End of the Lane – A Spoiler Free Review

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By 6vedik on deviantArt

Book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman

Age Group: Young Adult/Adult

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Magical Realism, Paranormal

Rating: 4.5/5

Going into this book I had heard and read a lot. My mother’s book group read it and did not like it at all, but they did like Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Many of my friends told me that it was the book of the year. Goodreads informed me that it was one of their picked books. The gist of what I knew about it from other reviews and news pieces is that it was Neil Gaiman’s book for his wife to enjoy. So I tried to clear my mind of all of this in order to read it.

To put it simply this novel is a modern fairytale. Full of mystery, action, adventure, and of course English flair. The novel follows an older male narrator who is returning to his childhood county of Sussex, England to attend a funeral. He is traveling by himself and is planning to meet his wife and children there. He begins to daydream as he drives through the familiar old town and slowly finds himself driving on autopilot. He drives past his old family house, dilapidated like his memories, and continues driving down to the end of the lane. Unsure why he is here, he gets out of the car and approaches the Hempstock’s house. Knocking on the door he asks to speak to Lettie, a girl who he can only barely remember. The mother of the household tells him to go wait out back by the “lake” while she got Lettie. Although the narrator does not recall the “lake”, instead recalling a “pond”, he still makes his way around back and as he sits in front of it the memories begin to resurface on the “lake” and a twisted, dark, and intricate fairytale reaches its hand to him from recesses of his memories.

This book is one of those that is difficult to talk about without giving away intricate details to the plot line. It is also a dark and convoluted journey through the psyche of a seven-year old. The events are told from and through a seven-year olds understanding which leaves the feel of the tip of the iceberg concept.

Although a fun ride and amazing adventure, it asks the readers to extend their grip on reality and how they understand the world to work. It also addresses several heavy themes including suicide, cheating, and child abuse. Other smaller themes and subjects would include women’s rights and understanding of place in the world.

The novel itself is short, having taken me about a week to finish it again, but could easily be read in an afternoon and evening if one so desired.

I mentioned above that my mother’s book group did not like this novel, but loved The Night Circus, I believe this is because The Night Circus spells everything out for you. It leads you in a direction of thought and always holds your hand. On the other hand, The Ocean at the End of the Lane asks you to suspend your current thoughts, be open, accepting, speculate, asks questions about what you are reading, and is presented overall in an entirely different way. Although my mother’s book group is relatively open readers, I do find they tend to enjoy non-fiction and historical fiction the best, things not in the science fiction or fantasy genre.

Now it is time for the quotes!:

Words save our lives, sometimes.
Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane (via bookmania)
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 rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.
Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at The End of the Lane (via ashleyriordan)
You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.
Gaiman, Neil. The Ocean at the End of the Lane. (via wordsnquotes)

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As always all opinions and views noted above are my own. If you’re thinking about buying the book then check out other reviews.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

~ Yoku

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