Warning: I’m going to state a personal preference in a minute. Please try not to bunch yer undies. I know we live in a time where having a personal preference has morphed into some sort of damning of all that you don’t prefer. For instance it seems, at least on the Internet, that saying ‘hey I like to read old-fashioned paper books’ is often interpreted as ‘you who read ebooks are ruining everything with your electronics and stupid fart faces.’ The Internet is weird like that.
There used to be a time where you could have a personal preference and it was okay. It was okay to like Diet Coke more than Coke or Diet Pepsi and stating that you did, indeed, prefer Diet Coke was in no way a condemnation of anyone who chose to drink other kinds of sodas. It was a glorious time.
So with that in mind, here goes: I don’t care for the work of Neil Gaiman. It’s okay if you do, we can still be friends. I can see his appeal. I can see how his magical stories might enthrall people. However, his writing does nothing for me and, frankly, kind of bores me.
My latest attempts to enjoy the books of Neil Gaiman comes in the form of The Ocean at the End of the Lane the hotly anticipated adult novel from the young-adult/middle grade/graphic novel maestro. I listened to this one, read by Gaiman (who is a great reader) for my bookclub and it was fine. Did it make my pulse race? No. Did it make me yearn for what was going to happen at the end? No. Did it make me want to turn it off and not go back? No.
I am damning this one with faint praise. It was just okay in my estimation. A little repetitive. . . what color were the kitten’s eyes again? Oh yes, blue-green thanks for telling me eighty-two times. Also, was the wormhole like a strangely transparent living thing? Really? Maybe you should tell me again. Did the narrator like to read books? I don’t know because you only mentioned it every other page.
The repetition stands out because this is a shortie five hours when it’s read to you, 192 pages when you read it yourself.
This book finds an fortysomething man returning to his childhood home for a funeral. While walking his old stomping grounds a fragment of a memory scratches at him. He wanders down the lane to the old Hempstock farm where he finds Old Mrs. Hempstock, who invites him in and settles him at a bench in front of the old duck pond, a pond her daughter Lettie called an ocean.
Properly benched, his memory goes back forty years to the summer he was seven and an opal miner came to live with his family and met a tragic end. The death of the tenant sets off a chain of events that brings ettie Hempstock, an eleven-year-old girl into his life and an evil babysitter in the form of beautiful Ursula Monkton into his house.
Strange and magical and dark things happen and culminate (of course) in an ultimate battle. Lives are lost, lives are saved, blah, blah, blah. Like I said, it’s a little boring. The over-arching theme about memory and fear and self-worth is all well and good, and like I said it’s nice. It’s a nice, okay book that I couldn’t get too hopped up about either way.
If you’d like a more positive, sunny take on the book go read Leann’s review or Christa’s review, they really liked the book and have much more insightful things to say about it.
I actually think you’d like his other adult novels better, like Good Omens. That’s my all-time Gaiman favorite. He wrote it with Terry Pratchett. In fact, all his other adult novels are better than this one, though I did love them all.
But, if you’re just over Gaiman, move on. I’m still waiting for your Harry Potter analysis…some day. (Warning: the first Harry Potter book isn’t written that well. Second one either. I always liked the plot, but they older Harry gets the better written they are.)
I’ve read one of his other adult novels, Anansi Boys and it was okay. I think that’s my summation of Gaiman, he’s okay. I had a writing teacher once who said about David Sedaris: “He’s fine, he’s got plenty of readers, he doesn’t need me.” That’s how I feel about Gaiman (and Chuck Palahniuk).
Ha! I actually got the first Harry Potter book as a gift many years ago. I gave it to my nephew last summer.
You gave it away without reading it??
Yeah. I’m kind of an asshole. I really have zero interest in reading Harry Potter. Boy wizards? Really not my thing.
Okay, “boy wizards” made me laugh out loud. There are girl wizards, too. Hermoine is awesome.
But, alas, your analysis of it is not in my future. I hope your nephew liked it, though.
You will be happy to know that I have a family full of Harry Potter fans. I think my niece & I might be the only hold outs.