Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Book 25 of 2014: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Back last year I was a lot more active on Twitter than I have been recently. Neil Gaiman is one of the authors that I follow there and I kept on hearing talk about The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. There were a lot of people posting about how good it was, shortly after it was published.

I’d been promising myself more Neil Gaiman books for ages and was sure I would like this book, despite knowing pretty much nothing about it other than the name. Then my local bookshop did the blind date with a book thing and I picked up a book which was labelled as:

1. Fantasy
2. Childhood memories
3. Fable

I picked it up and low and behold, it was Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane so I hurriedly finished The Dead of Jericho and moved onto my brand new book.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane begins with a man returning to his old childhood home following a funeral and remembering a girl he was friends with when he lived there. He goes back to her old home and finds himself sitting in the pond in her garden remembering the strange things that happened when he was much younger.

I absolutely LOVED this book! There is really no other way to describe my feelings for it other than complete and utter love. I gave it five stars in my book journal. I think for the whole year so far (out of the 49 books I’ve read) I’ve only given three books five stars; I’ve given quite a few books four and a half, but The Ocean At The End Of The Lane was only my second five star book.

I was thrilled when I unwrapped my book and discovered it was by Neil Gaiman because up until this point I had read and loved The Graveyard Book and Stardust. I’d intended to collect Gaiman books on my Kindle but since I own this one and I’d found Anansi Boys earlier in the year I’ve sort of resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to have to just buy them all and squeeze them onto my bookcase somehow.

It was one of those books that I didn’t want to put down. I could have quite easily read it in one go if I hadn’t started it at 10:30pm on a Sunday. I basically read it in four sittings.

It’s a difficult book to describe. I’m impressed that Print Point were able to pick the three points to describe it because even writing a vague plot summary is really hard. There were parts that were kind of creepy but at the same time it wasn’t that scary. Some of it was the way it was written and some of it was the events that were being described, you really got the sense of how the narrator felt about what was going on in his life at the time.

The premise itself was fantastic and I loved the way that it was written. The first and last chapters kind of act as bookends, introducing you to the past and bringing you back to the present day. It’s so very clever. I also like that it has a little question and answer section at the end; I like those, they’re like special features for books. It was interesting to read which of the events in the book actually happened to Gaiman in real life when he was younger.

I love magic realism and Neil Gaiman is becoming one of my favourite authors, even though at the time of reading this it was only my third book of his that I’d read (I’ve now read my fourth in Anansi Boys). I’m really looking forward to reading more of his books and no sooner had I finished this book I shared it with a colleague who read it almost as quickly as I did. I’ve since recommended it to several other people as well.

Definitely one I’ll be reading again in the future.

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