The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A disappointingly short and spare read, and one that fits firmly with Gaiman’s children’s novels (even if its length places it more with the novellas), despite how much it is being pushed as an adult novel. It’s a shame to be disappointed with a writer’s book because his publishers misrepresent it, but there you go.
The characterisation is thin, relying (as ever with Gaiman, but here especially so) on nostalgia and melancholy to create empathy, and for quirkiness to stand in for personality, and the protagonist - if he even qualifies as such - contributes nothing to the plot other than to run away and wax nostalgic. The story has little in the way of surprise or deviation and seems to mostly comprise a succession of set pieces that link vaguely together, and just when you think that the finale may pull something darker from the hat, it muddles away to nothing. The writing is beautiful, of course, and Gaiman creates good atmosphere, but this is a ragged thing, and far from the future classic it’s being touted as.
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