Monday, August 12, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

After finishing Matt Forbeck's Brave New World trilogy, I was heading out to camp and thought that Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane was the perfect book to take with me.  It isn't particularly long (181 pages), and I've heard really good things about it.  And there hasn't been a new Neil Gaiman book in quite sometime, so I was pretty excited to sit down and read it.

"This book is childhood."  That's how Emily May starts her review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  And that description is particularly apt.  This book, written for adults by an adult, is childhood.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane starts off in a relatively mundane way.  The narrator (I believe his name is George, but it only comes up near the end) is back in his home village to attend a funeral.  He has a couple of hours to kill, so he wanders back to his old neighbourhood and finds himself at the house of his old friend, Lettie Hempstock.  Sitting down by the pond which Lettie had convinced him years earlier was an ocean, he finds himself flooded in memories from the summer when he was seven years old.

The summer in question is definitely not mundane.  A man living in the narrator's house committed suicide, which woke up a being who should have stayed asleep.  Lettie takes the narrator to help her put the being back to sleep, but everything goes wrong.  The narrator's home life becomes a nightmare as that being follows him home.  The narrator knows that only Lettie and her family can save him and his family, but he has to get to her first. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is well written, in an almost whimsical manner, at odds with the darkness of the tale; coupled together, this book has a rather dream-like quality that suits it.  This is the story of the worst that can happen in childhood: the monsters are real and they really are after you. 

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