“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd
Greetings Fellow BookNerds,
First off, for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you were all able to enjoy it with your friend, family and loved ones, with lots of good food and anything else you do to make the occasion truly special.
Secondly, a reminder that there are only a couple weeks left until Nanowrimo, so if you haven’t registered your story online yet, you might want to add it to the top of your to do list. For those of you who don’t know what this is, in brief, the National Novel Writing Month is an event which comes around once a year in November, and it’s a chance for aspiring writers to finally yank out that idea for a story they’ve had stuck in their heads forever and get it down on paper… or on your laptop, whichever way you choose to write. For more information, visit www.nanowrimo.org.
Now, down to business. When I first picked up The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, I had zero expectations, mainly because I have actually never heard of this book before. I have been a diehard Neil Gaiman fan for a long time, but I’ve only actually read Good Omens, which was a collaborative work between him and Terry Pratchett. I had yet to read something that was purely his own, and so this book was my first taste of that. My first impression… bewildering.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman
Memory is a funny thing. It is often the case that two people will recall the same event in very different ways. Who knows why this happens, but it can make for some very interesting conversations as you continue to grow and share your life stories, which seem to change just a little bit with each telling.
So what if something happened to you, something that couldn’t possibly have happened, and yet you would swear up and down until the day you died that it did?
This seven year old boy, with a boundless imagination and who loves to lose himself in a good book – much like many of us, I’m sure – lived through the seemingly impossible, a monumental event which may could very well have caused the whole world to disappear, and yet he is the only one who remembers… well, him and the Hempstocks.
It is a story rife with wonder and fear, with magic and darkness, and it’s all brought together seemlessly by Gaiman’s uncanny ability to string together the english language in new and unexpected ways. He pits you against some of your worst childhood fears, but not without leaving a light of hope glowing at the end of the tunnel.
This book explores the boundaries between what we can rationally accept, and that which is beyond the comprehension of most, both of which are witnessed through the eyes of a child who, like most children, possesses an open mind and an eagerness to explore the strange and the bizarre, which is exactly what he finds. Or I suppose it would be more accurate to say that it finds him, in the form of Lettie Hempstock.
Lettie’s an eleven year old girl who isn’t actually eleven, and not really a human girl either. But that doesn’t matter to our protagonist, who only see’s a friend whom he could trust with his life. And thus, their adventure together began, taking us on a journey where nothing is as it seems; where a pond can be an ocean, and an eleven year old girl can be as old as time itself.
You will gasp, cry, cringe and smile as Gaiman invites you to see the world through the eyes of a child, and through the mind of the elderly man who used to be that child so many years ago. As a boy, he found a sense of courage and determination that he never knew was there before, and a world which existed outside his books that was both wonderful and terrifying. His life would never be the same ever again, but only if he can remember…
It truly was a delight to read. It was shorter than most of the books I’m used to reading, and yet he managed to fit so much in that small space. It kind of felt like a very mature children’s book, in that it got to the point quickly instead of dragging it out with lengthy, detailed descriptions of every little thing, and yet the content itself was very deep and complex, but without going too far over your head. It’s beautiful, and made me tear up a couple of times, which is something books rarely make me do.
You’ve probably noticed that I only gave it 4 stars. Well, I really liked it, and I don’t really have anything bad to say about it, but it’s not the kind of book that I would go out of my way to read. It’s a great book to read before going to bed, but I wouldn’t take it with me wherever I go, which is something I do with books that I just can’t put down. In short, I really liked it, but I didn’t love it, but don’t let my opinion deter you from reading it. I really did enjoy it, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it, for those of you who have read it also.
So, get yourself signed up for Nanowrimo, grab a copy of The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, and until next time, keep on reading!