Saturday, 21 December 2013

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.


Book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Author: Neil Gaiman

Pages: 181

How Long it Took Me to Read: A day.

Plot Summary: 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.

General Thoughts: This is the first proper Neil Gaiman book I'v ever read. I picked up American Gods in 2008 or so and read about more than half of it. Why I put it down...I don't even know. But I remembered how much I loved the writing and the style. 

I have heard sooooo many good things about Neil Gaiman that when I heard of this book, I knew I had to get it. I got this book soon after it came out. At 181 pages this was a quick and easy read. I recommend you read this if, like me, you've meant to read a Gaiman book for ages. This book is a great way to start reading his work. 

What I loved: The plot- I love books that are told in flashback, especially ones that has the lead character re-examining aspects of his childhood. I loved this story and it's characters. 

The thing I loved most about this book is a little difficult to articulate. But let me try, I LOVED that this book  has a full-grown man look back at a time in his childhood that wasn't entirely pleasant or easy and he looks back with the maturity of an adult but at the same time the innocence of his childhood comes through. There are insights about childhood and what it feels like to be a child that really resonated with me. Neil Gaiman is wise man and his writing and thoughts and words just convey just that. There were sooo many lines and paragraphs in this book that had me nodding and agreeing with the ideas and simply for that I wish everyone reads this book. 

Sample this for instance- “Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

Or this- 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. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.” 

And this- “I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.” 

See???? The book is full of such gems! Seriously, you need to read this book! 

I also adored the characters in this book but no one better than Lettie! I wish I had a friend like her when I was little and scared. She is wise, comforting, brave and spunky. I wish there is book just about Lettie in the future. I also adored Hempstock family in general and wish there was more of them. 

What I didn't Like: I wanted more Hempstock magic. 
Other than that I have nothing else to complain about! 

Rating: 5/5 

I will definitely be reading more Neil Gaiman in the coming year since I enjoyed this one so much! 

1 comment:

Urdu Shayari said...

Beautifully written, the book is a breath of fresh air; something that is characteristic of Neil Gaiman. He paints his inspiration in ink and leaves his readers with the most raw and potent images he can. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a magnificent addition to his earlier work and firmly establishes and reaffirms why the author is regarded as one of the finest Fantasy writers alive.

I might be biased in my opinion, but as someone who reads a LOT of fantasy, it's always a pleasure to read such a well-written, cohesive book.

In terms of characterization, Gaiman creates memorable personalities. The narrator is as close to a reader as possible, rendering his fears into extensions of your own. Every character is there for a reason.

Critics may label this book a "Children's Book" and perhaps they're right. Every word is chosen with care and every thought is coated with just the right amount of subtlety. The difference though, is that Gaiman layers his work with images that linger in every reader, irrespective of age.

I would encourage you to read it because you never know when the neighbourhood pond might become your own ocean and your imagination kindles anew