Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane


http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/images/TheOceanattheEndoftheLane_Hardcover_1359996597.jpg
I actually listened to the audiobook of The Ocean at the End of the Lane read by the author, Neil Gaiman. I had read the blurb on the back cover but was still not expecting the story that I actually got.  I’m also still unsure as to how I feel about the book or if I even liked it. The story unfolds with the narrator looking back on a childhood adventure as an adult. In this adventure, he and his neighbor down the lane, Lettie Hempstock, try to send a spirit back who is stirring up trouble, especially for the narrator. This spirit is in the form of Ursula Monkton, the new family babysitter. I can identify with a child’s dislike of a babysitter and seeing her as a sort of monster, so that bit of fantasy definitely appealed to me. I enjoyed the scenes with the Hempstock family as I particularly liked Lettie’s mother and grandmother as characters. The end was quite sad, but it was an ending that suited the story well. Gaiman’s books and fantasies are always so different, but yet very imaginative. This is definitely a story that no one else has written.
On a side note, this book was in the adult fiction section but I would consider it more of a YA book minus the dodgy sexual encounter between Ursula Monkton and the narrator’s father. I think that is part of the reason why I liked it more than American Gods. I just tend to like Gaiman’s younger narrators better.
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American Gods


http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/Books/American+Gods/
Sonya has risen from her library school grave (aka graduated) and will actually have time to review books now!! 🙂 With that out of the way, let’s hear about American Gods:
I would have given American Gods 2 stars, but the last 100 pages were much better so 2.5 it is. I don’t want to say I can’t like this book because I think in a different context I would. I started this book during the break between summer and fall classes thinking it would make for a nice relaxing read. However, American Gods is a fairly hefty novel in terms of content, so I think if I had been in a mood for something deep, I would have liked it more. What I really wanted was something fluffy, and I thought American Gods would be a fast-paced mystery-sci fi novel. It wasn’t. Since its also character-focused it moves less quickly; Gaiman takes his time developing the characters. What I really wanted, though, was a fast-paced fantasy novel! I mean the cover has a highway with lightning on it! 
American Gods was recommended to me by Nox and Zelda as being one of Gaiman’s best. I loved The Graveyard Book and Coraline, so I thought I might delve into some adult fiction, and American Godscame highly recommended. Plus, Gaiman’s concept for the book seems intriguing and original. The concept of gods as real manifestations was interesting let alone the concept of “American” gods such as media, the internet, and television. The beginning caught my attention but after Shadow and Wednesday set off to rope more gods into Wednesday’s plan, I just lost interest. The vignettes about how the gods came to America that are scattered throughout I found distracting. The last 100 pages or so were actually quite good, but I often found myself counting how many pages to the end of the chapter and to the end of the book. I just wanted to be done with it so I could go back to reading Gone with the Wind (which is wonderful!). Perhaps I might try a different adult novel by Gaiman and see if it goes better. Any recommendations?!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

So, if you haven’t heard yet (how’s life under that rock?), Neil Gaiman published a new book last month—‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’. Both of us, Zelda and Madeleine, loved the book.

Zelda: I have no negative things to say except it ended too soon. I read the inside flap description but that doesn’t do the book justice.

Madeleine: I usually read a lot about a book before it comes out—the official description, the blurbs, and maybe a few reviews. When Gaiman first announced the book, there was no description, just the beautiful cover. As the publication date approached, I liked not knowing what to expect, so I avoided all descriptions and reviews. It was a good choice—I went into it without preformed opinions and was blown away by the story.

Zelda: The only thing that could have made this better is if Neil Gaiman read it to me himself.

Madeleine: Neil Gaiman read a bit of it to me! Well, me and a couple hundred other people. I was very lucky to get to see him when he stopped for a reading in Minnesota. Here’s a blurry picture from my phone that proves how close I was (third row).

Madeleine: I almost felt bad going—he had been up until 3 AM the night before signing things. Here I am promoting author abuse by attending his readings. But he was very gracious about everything. The evening as a whole was wonderful. And, you know, I proceeded to contribute to author abuse by getting my copy signed.

Zelda: You mentioned the cover earlier. Let us discuss the cover for a moment. Gorgeous. Just stunning. I love the title, the font…everything.

Madeleine: Did you know? There’s a picture on the back of the book of a child standing on a drainpipe—that’s a real picture of our esteemed author. I’ve heard that the book is a bit autobiographical. I can definitely see the unnamed narrator as a young Neil—bookish, thoughtful and aware, and able to see the supernatural in everyday life.

Zelda: I’ll admit, I cried a little bit before I even really knew the characters. For such a short book I was surprised at how much I cared about the characters and for how well developed they were.

Madeleine: At the reading, Gaiman talked a bit about how the book came about. He usually chooses to write his books, and plans them out. ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ started out as a short story for his wife. He couldn’t tell where the story was going, but kept writing. He finished and looked at this word count and realized he had written a novel. I wonder if the characters and the story felt so real and organic, because they weren’t planned out, but came from some subconscious pool (or is it an ocean?) of story and myth.

Zelda: Gaiman has always impressed me but this was so creative and engaging that he brought himself to a whole new level. This was better than I thought it would be and I just want to tell everyone I see to read it. Maybe I am gushing too much and now someone will read this and then be disappointed, but I can’t help it.

Madeleine: I agree.  ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ may be my favorite book by Neil Gaiman yet. It’s a simple story, but it’s dark and beautiful and evocative.

Zelda: Just go read it. All I can say is you won’t regret it.