“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman
(First publication: 2013 / This edition: Headline Publishing 2013)
Taken during a coffee and cronut break at Vanilla Cafeteria
I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. i could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in things that made me happy. (pg.199)
I’m writing this right before going into a job interview, just to distract myself from nerves. It’s been a while since I finished this book actually—I’m in the middle of reading Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” (ugh.), so this book popped into my mind and I realized that I haven’t written about it yet.
It was an impulse purchase. I had known about Neil Gaiman (who, for some reason, I had always confused with Neil deGrasse) but was never curious enough to try out his books—mainly because they were always on the “Sci-Fi” and “Fantasy” aisles.
This book was on the “Highlights” shelf in Kinokuniya on one trip. And to be honest, I was just drawn to the cover really. I didn’t expect much from the book, but the cover looked too mesmerizing for me to resist.
Anyway, it was an easy, chill read. I stayed up late two nights reading this—it just flowed so smoothly.
However, even though I couldn’t really “put it down”, I didn’t really enjoy it that much either. It was just too… bizarre for me. There were so many things going on and all so eerie and strange—I’m not that good with “imaginary” and “magical” things. I find it hard to picture what’s actually happening and I find it exhausting trying to keep up with all the whirlwind of events.
Reading it, it kept making me think of the cartoon movie “Coraline”. There were so many similarities—like “children vs. adults” and strange, mean mother-like characters. It made me feel like Alice in Wonderland, but that not only is she lost, no one would believe her—and they’re out to kill her. It just made me feel suffocated. Only then did I find out that “Coraline” is written by Neil Gaiman. I was NOT surprised. It might as well have been called “Coraline’s Brother” or “Coraline, the Sequel”.
Aside from the beautiful cover, I had looked up the reviews on Goodreads and noticed that it has pretty high ratings—so that was the second factor to push me to purchase. It’s supposedly a book for adults, but in a “children books” form. I read a lot of reviews about how this book brings childhood nostalgia and how many were able to “relate” and it makes them feel like a child again.
I know it’s a personal thing, but I don’t remember my childhood being that “nightmarish” where all the adults are against me and strangers are always on the hunt for me to give me a beating. And yes, I realize the book didn’t mean it literally—it was supposedly all the kid’s “imagination”—but god, I felt like everything that happened was way too traumatizing and thrilling to be going on in a child’s head. Too much terror. In short, I just couldn’t really relate, therefore, I felt no emotional connection.
Would I recommend this to anyone? Hm… I don’t know. Not really, to be honest. I just feel too indifferent about it. If you like “Coraline” or something about children and their imaginary worlds, this would be an enjoyable read probably. (I wouldn’t recommend reading it to children though).