Book Review: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Jean-Paul’s rating: 5/5 stars

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is a children’s book in the same way that Grimm’s Fairy Tales are for children.  Ok, maybe not that bad, but Gaiman has a particular gift for seeing adult themes through the eyes of a child.  There is a matter-of-factness in children when confronted with things that stretch the boundaries of their knowledge.  There almost has to be since they are constantly assaulted with new information.  And even though there is a suicide and nudity and sex in this book, I would still consider it a children’s book just because Gaiman captured a child’s spirit so well.  That isn’t to say that what we have here is only a children’s book.  Far from it.  “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” should appeal to just about everyone.  All the characters are fully flushed out and entertaining.  The story is compelling and dreamy and thought-provoking.  Gaiman’s descriptions make it seem like you are there witnessing the goings on in the story.

What I like best about the book is that even though the protagonist is a young boy, he is helped along his journey by a triumvirate of strong women in the Hempstock family.  Even the main villain is female.  This is such an unusual occurrence in literature or any form of art that it is worth pointing out.

The story itself is best described as a fairy tale if one were to assign such designations to books.  The Hempstocks are aglessly old.  Even the youngest, Lettie, is aged beyond description despite appearing only thirteen.  One of the best lines is when the boy first realizes it.  “How old are you?”  “Thirteen.”  “How many years have you been thirteen?”  The entire book is filled with dialogue like that.

This book draws you in and doesn’t let go.  Dream and reality are combined.  Oceans fit in buckets.  The world is filled with monsters who mean well but cause havoc anyway.  It is a complete delight from start to finish and I’d highly recommend you all read it.