I have to admit that I’ve strayed from the classics lately. My reviews of The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Metamorphosis are on their way but since finishing them, I have derailed a bit. I’m nearly finished with World War Z (and loving every word!) and have also read the latest from author Neil Gaiman, you know… the reigning king of science fiction. His work is typically dark and loaded with symbolism, not to mention supremely well-written and somehow, I managed to get my hands on his latest novel, a lovely little read called The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Like most of his fiction, TOATEOTL is part sci-fi, part fantasy, part fairy tale. Steeped in myth and mystery, it will transport you to that precocious time in life when you were too smart to be called a child yet too naive and inexperienced to be deemed a young adult. Told through the eyes of a 7 year-old who is depicted like a real kid, not a tiny adult or an unrealistically innocent dunce, as children are often portrayed in books, Gaiman hooks you on page one with this clever, nostalgic, naive, yet never-too-simple narrator. Like real children, he’s a kid who at times, shows deep maturity and at others, childish innocence.
It is set in Sussex, England and begins with the narrator as an adult, returning to his hometown to attend a funeral. While there, he wanders back through his old neighborhood and eventually visits an old farm on which his childhood friend, an extraordinary girl called Lettie Hempstock, lived with her mom and grandmother. What he remembers is a story so remarkably strange and exciting but also dark and frightening, it’s a wonder how he ever forgot it. I will say no more because as wonderful as this story is, a very big part of its charm lies in discovering it, page by page.
I breezed through its 180 pages within three days, hardly able to put it down. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a delight to read, making you remember what it felt like when you were old enough to know certain things about the world but still young enough to believe in endless possibilities, when every corner of the earth held more mystery and wonder than your imagination could keep up with.