The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

I honestly tried to write a plot summary, but every time I try, the words come out clunky and stupid. Who would be interested in the book I was trying to summarize? How does my plot summary do justice to the beautiful book I hold in my hands?

So, if you really want to know what this is about, do yourself a favor and glance at the plot summary on the cover blurb. For once, the blurb is supremely done and accurately depicts the contents of the book.

There are times in your life that you can feel great change is happening - change so huge that the person you will be in the next few moments will be completely different than the person you were in the not-so-distant past. And now, after reading my third Gaiman book, fourth Gaiman work, I am that person. I am a Gaimanite.

How did I hide myself away from Gaiman's loving prose? How did I avoid reading any of Gaiman's intricate stories? Why did it take me so long to break down and read his books? Why did I continue to read all the same books with different names and physical descriptors when I could have been reading a new Gaiman book, where each world is vivid and brilliant, filled with magical characters and wondrous adventures?

I know this comes across as gushing, but I just can't stress enough how tiresome reading was getting for me pre-Gaiman streak. It seemed each book I opened was basically the same book I had slammed shut in frustration. Weak, wimpy characters. Insta-love. Lack of world-building. Terrible writing. Poor packing. I swear to God, authors must have gone to the "Mega-Bestseller Book Random Generator" to create their schlock. Different names, brown hair instead of blond, exchange "zombies" for "vampires", and voila, you've got a bestseller - right?

And then the dreaded thought: maybe I didn't like reading anymore. Maybe I grew out of that hobby like I did collecting Star Wars action figures (which I did mostly because all the figures are the same ones I already had). Or playing Rock Band (which I stopped doing mostly because my TV wouldn't sync up with the guitar). Or collecting pogs (do people even sell pogs anymore? Is that still a thing?).

This crushed me, this thought that maybe I wasn't meant to like reading anymore. I've been reading since second grade, when I forced my parents to take me back to school so I could pick up my book I left on my desk (it was going to be a long weekend, and I couldn't be without my book!). Yes, I went on hiatus around the time I started college, but by around 2007 until today, I've avidly read probably 100 books a year. Most of my home library are books I am eagerly awaiting to read. To learn that you don't like reading when so much of your life is based upon it - well, it's like having to relearn who you are.

Thank God for the friend who lent me the "Stardust" movie. Were it not for that charming movie, I would never have bought "Stardust" the book.

Thank God for the friend who said, "Hey, Neil Gaiman is doing a booksigning downtown. Wanna come?" Were it not for her, I would never have had this wee little book in my hands.

Ah, this little book! After hundreds of words blathering on about all the crappy books I've read and my mid-life reading crisis, we can finally get to the meat of this: my review of "The Ocean at the End of the Lane".

This book is like every Gaiman book I've had the pleasure of reading. It's charming. It's witty. It's clever, thoughtful, intelligent, beautiful, adventurous, magical, and poignant. It makes me nostalgic for my childhood. The characters stir at my heartstrings. The stories resonate within me.

Basically, it's what every author should be aiming to write - and what most authors are FAILING terribly at writing.

This is not to say this is a perfect book. I'm not so much of a fangirl that I am blind to Gaiman's faults. It's kind of horrible to think of the memories that this child/man must carry with him (if he does indeed remember - something that the final chapter hints may not be true). I don't know if it's because of the viewpoint (a child looking into an adult's world), but the magic is confusing, seemingly whatever it needs to be at the time.

OK, so maybe I can't really think of any faults right now. That's not to say they aren't there, just that when push comes to shove, I don't see them. I don't see them because the book is SO GOOD, so beautiful, so BIG that I am enveloped in it.

So maybe this isn't worth 5 stars, but I'm giving it 5 stars anyway. I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I rediscovered my love for reading. And I found a new favorite author, a man who is able to create new fairytales, for young and old, without compromising characters and world-building and prose.

I'm sure this book won't be for everyone. Hell, maybe in a few years, I'll be poking holes in it like I do with lots of other books. But for now, it was just what I needed.

Neil Gaiman, I love you! You have totally restored my faith in authors being able to write interesting, beautiful stories and rekindled my love of reading. Thank you!