Review || The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Page Count: 181

Blurb (from Goodreads):

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.

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I read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane and here’s what I thought, normally I enjoy Neil Gaiman’s books, they are often the right kind of weird for me. However I found The Ocean At The End Of The Lane to be boring. It has the really interesting concept of a guy who doesn’t remember anything about his childhood really besides that it was strange rediscovering it.

However I feel this story didn’t need the framing of the main character looking back on his childhood, because for me it removed the tension of the story. At the climax there’s the question of whether he will survive or not, but there’s no stakes whatsoever for the audience because we already know he does because he is looking back on the past. Thus the whole sequence reads flat and I couldn’t make myself care.

Speaking of flat things, the characters felt one-dimensional. I know this is a short book but at least the key characters should still feel fleshed out. This extended to the villain and though she did have a motivation she was kind of blah. However I did like the magical aspects of this book and the mystery surrounding the Hempstock’s and their origins. It didn’t bother that it was never properly explained, I’m always down for a little bit of magical realism.

For me the plot was fairly standard, not bad, just not wowing. My opinions on the writing style is similar, it wasn’t awful but I didn’t love it. It lacked something, it wasn’t immersive and I was very aware that I was reading, often I would be reading and then realise that I’d taken in nothing for the last page and have to read the section again. This made the book feel like it was much longer then it was, however it could have been my fault I was a little tired.

Overall it was an okay book, I’ll continue to read Gaiman’s work, however I probably won’t recommend this one.

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