This weekend’s book review post is going to be a bit different than usual.
It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a Sunday Book Review, but I have a legitimate excuse. Originally, my intent was to review an indie book each weekend (and that’s still the goal, for the most part). However, as some of you saw on Twitter, a couple weeks ago I discovered a used English bookstore in downtown Barcelona, so I simply had to go. Twice. Possibly three times.
How am I supposed to set those books on the shelf and not read them? Before discovering this wonderful little place tucked away in a smelly side street behind some random cathedral, I was reading As The Crow Flies, by Robin Lythgoe, and believe me I was enjoying it. But…but…Neil Gaiman, people!
Now, a week or two later, I’ve finished The Ocean At The End Of The Lane and Neverwhere and am 100 pages into The Fellowship Of The Ring. I still fully intend to finish ATCF and review it, but I’m a reader before I’m a blogger, so I’m allowing myself this divergence.
That being said, I simply cannot withhold a review of The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, even if it’s not an indie book. So, here we go! Don’t worry, no spoilers here.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
by Neil Gaiman
Genre according to Amazon: contemporary fantasy.
Length (print): 243 pages.
How I found it: by hunting down every Neil Gaiman book ever written.
Blurb (dust jacket):
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed–within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
Simply put, this book is amazing. Here are some of it’s greatest strengths (in my opinion):
- A lovable narrator/protagonist for whom you cheer from the first sentence. He’s so well developed that it wasn’t until a few days after finishing the book that I realized we never actually find out his name.
- Intense and sometimes dark scenes/moments told oh so efficiently and innocently from the eyes of a seven-year-old.
- An ending that left me with water coming out of my face and that little ache in my chest that only comes at the end of such a book.
- Can easily be read in 1-2 sittings, due to both its brevity and its pacing.
- An appreciation for mystery and the unknown (not everything gets spelled out clearly; I will probably re-read just for that reason).
- The cover. I know it’s just a cover…but come on. It’s gorgeous.
- A perfect blend of fantastical and magical elements with tangible, mundane places and habits from the author’s own childhood.
- Did I mention the emotion-overflow-inducing ending?
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, so I’m a bit biased, but I honestly don’t know if there was anything in this book that I didn’t like. I will, however, point out that there is one instance of (merely mentioned) nudity and one (separate) instance of sexual implications. Both have their part in the plot and are told very briefly from the perspective of the seven-year-old narrator, so there is nothing explicit or unwarranted. The book may look like a children’s story, but I wouldn’t consider it so, nor would the author, in my understanding/reading of his own take on the story.
My rating: 5/5 stars.
(It’s a no-brainer)
Once again, this review is just my opinion. Yours may differ, and that’s fine! My plan is to finish As The Crow Flies by next weekend and thus get back on track with indie reviews. For more reviews and other posts, be sure to subscribe!