The Ocean at the End of the Lane
September 10, 2013
Confession: I am not a huge Neil Gaiman reader. I respect his reputation, and I have enjoyed the Doctor Who episodes he’s written. But other than Good Omens, the book that he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, I have not read anything by just him. Until now!
Gaiman’s newest book is The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The story began as a short piece that Gaiman wrote for his wife while she was traveling for a prolonged period, but the story continued to grow until it became this full-length book. And it’s easy to see why.
I was caught up in the story from the first page. The characters are completely three-dimensional, the kinds who seem more real than people you know in the real world. The story centers on a grown man who returns to a neighbor’s house from his childhood. Once there, he begins to recollect the amazing and mystical events that took place there when he was young. Though the characters are a definite strength to Gaiman’s writing, his real talent is with the words themselves. The book is like poetry. Every word is intentionally chosen and serves a distinct purpose. He describes his characters with elegant simplicity. His characters and setting are so well-created that when the story begins to incorporate more mystical elements, they appear to be truly surreal.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of the books that make me wish we didn’t have to apply those genre labels. This book is categorized as "Fantasy." I suppose because of some supernatural components, but I find that limiting to the book. Though the story does include some unexplainable phenomena, the real story is about childhood and adulthood, friendship, and what it means to have a special place that makes a difference in your entire life. I know I have had places like that. And after reading this book, you will have a place like that, too.