Reading The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman is like being trapped inside someone’s crazy dream–and that dream is never as interesting to you as it is to them, because if you weren’t the person who was dreaming it, it really just doesn’t make any sense.
A man returns to the place where his childhood home used to be, and he begins to remember his friend Lettie, and the magical adventure that they had together. They unleashed and recaptured a monster that was trying to ruin his life.
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.
The seven-year-old boy who narrates The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is unlike any other seven-year-old boy that I have ever met. I have an almost seven-year-old-boy, and as far as I know, he doesn’t recite death poems in his head, read books about death, or climb out of his window in the middle of the night. In addition to not knowing this character at all, I just didn’t understand him.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane was very short, and it provided no context, background, or explanation. The characters were dimensionless. The novel raised a lot of questions like “Where were the Hemstock’s immortal?”, “Where did they come from?”, “What made them magic?” and “What did the South African’s suicide have to do with releasing the monster?”.
It was just all so out-there and unexplained that it was never scary or interesting. There was no suspense. I couldn’t wait to get through it, only so that it would be over.
I will admit that I may be a bit rigid as far as my imagination goes, and I may not have been able to open up to this story and accept it for what it was. But the truth is, I think that if it was a good fantasy, it should have been able to draw even me in.
I think that The Ocean At The End Of The Lane could have done better as a children’s short story book. It would probably have some appeal for 11 or 12-year-old boys. I don’t think that I can give it 0 stars, so I will show some mercy and give it 1.