Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Success with Neil Gaiman and The Ocean at the End of the Lane

So here is my deal with Neil Gaiman. Sometime around 2001-2002 I picked up American Gods, read about half of it, and never finished it. Last year I tried to read The Graveyard Book. Again, I read about half and never finished it. I'm also about halfway into Volume 1 of the Sandman series.

So when I tried to listen to The Ocean at the End of the Lane on audio - twice - unsuccessfully, I thought...

MY GOD. Enough of this!

I got myself a print copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and by God, I read the damn thing. The Whole Thing.

Do I actually have any issues with Neil Gaiman? Not that I'm aware of. I just have issues.

It turns out The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a really great read. I'm not going to call myself a Gaiman fan until I've read more books than I've DNF'ed, but once I successfully forced myself to read Ocean, I was sad to see it end.

I love truly imaginative reads. It seems that every time I fall in love with an imaginative book, someone compares it to Gaiman. I discovered some of why that is while reading Ocean.

Someone mentioned to me they were worried about the main character being so young. The young age of the character is part of the whole wonder that is The Ocean at the End of the Lane. If you are worried about youth in peril, don't be. When Ocean starts out, the main character is an adult visiting his childhood home for a funeral. He stops at the titular ocean and this is where he recalls the events of the story. You know he will be OK.

The MC/narrator's story is, indeed, imaginative and dark, and a story I very much enjoyed, but my heart lies in the ending of Ocean where the narrator is once again a grown man. There is a feeling of nostalgia that runs through The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and the ending was able to capture that for me and give it momentum to stay with me long after finishing the last page.

Eventually I need to go back to the beginning of my Neil Gaiman circle and tackle American Gods. It appears on so many "best" lists and it has won so many awards. It took three times for me to read Ocean, and it turned out to be a book I enjoyed very much.

Have you ever experienced something like this with a particular author? I just read two of Gaiman's picture books in an effort to restore some balance and even out the Neil Gaiman score a bit. It may be that Gaiman isn't for me, but I've proved to myself that sometimes something as simple as your mood or as complicated as your preconceived notions can really effect what you are reading.

As far as The Ocean at the End of the Lane goes, I think it's a great read, and I'd be happy to hear you are reading it, too.

8/10: Great Read


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  1. Neil Gaiman is one of those authors that are so hyped I'm always so nervous going into anything of his. My first read of his was The Graveyard Book and I really enjoyed it (plus I've heard it's great on audio, may want to try that instead?) I've also read Coraline and Odd and the Frost Giants but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is actually my list fav read of his. American Gods is definitely on my TBR (especially after hearing it's possibly being made into an HBO series) as well as Stardust and Neverwhere. Neverwhere will likely be my next read. His books are strange and have an eclectic flair to them but I can still see the appeal. :)
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    1. I have Neverwhere on my shelf as well. I'll give it a try one of these days.

  2. I haven't read any Gaiman and part of the reason might be the hype, as the previous commenter said. Nothing of his has jumped out at me, and some of his older stuff seemed a little weird but I should give it a chance. It's probably one of those deals where I would start reading him and he'll become like a favorite author or something. :)

    I've heard good things about this one though. One of these days...

    1. Gaiman seems like an author I should love, but it's just been a weird experience for me.

  3. Great post, Jen! I'm looking forward to reading this one! I've read a few of his other books (Neverwhere, American Gods, Coraline) and I like him, though I tend to like a bit darker fiction in general. (P.s.- Quit stalking me! :P )

    1. What? You know you're obsessed with Book Den. j/k I totally stalk you.

      Ocean is actually a pretty dark read. There are moments that definitely spill over into your territory. Oh, please, I remember how much you fanboyed over Water for Elephants. :P < This is what happens when people stalk you.

    2. Lol. You crack me up! I hope you and the family have a great weekend, bud! *hugs*

  4. I've had a very similar experience with Gaiman. I like him. Nothing wrong with his writing but the only book of his I have successfully read is Coraline. Everything else I have started and not finished. I don't know what it is.

    1. So it is not just me. Lisa from Bookshelf Fantasies recommended I try Coraline. I'm glad to hear it was a winner for you, too.


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