So, you might have heard of Neil Gaiman. Dude's done pretty well for himself as a writer; basically everyone has heard he's great. Unfortunately, I have not read any of his books since Coraline when I was twelve despite the fact that I really enjoyed it. But when I had to read a couple of his short stories for a class about two years ago and The Ocean at the End of the Lane was released, I became quite curious. I had a feeling that it would be a good book.
Even though this is technically an adult book with an adult-aged protagonist, as the narrator returns to the lane he grew up on, he relives memories from his childhood, and those memories take precedence in this small novel. He returns to his neighbors, the Hempstocks and their farm, where he experienced mind-boggling, near-death experiences with his friend Lettie, who protected him from the monsters of other dimensions as they entered the world as us ordinary people know it. Memories fade with time, and some are simply unreliable, but going back to the place where such beautiful and horrible things occurred makes it all come back to the narrator.
To be honest, in the first half of this book I was a little unsure of how I felt about it. Even though the writing impressed me right off the bat and the general uniqueness of the monsters intrigued me, I felt it might be a little too far in left field for me to truly love. After all, some of these monsters are hard to fathom. I mean... A canvas? Really? And Ursula is the kind of antagonist bound to make readers' skin crawl. She bugged me. But I rolled with it all and was determined to give it a fair chance. It all had to be leading up to something, but I couldn't quite tell what it could be.
I think the last 25% of the book is when I realized that I was completely in love with it despite any initial thoughts, because it certainly did lead up to something, and my God was it beautiful. I wasn't expecting something that seemed so creepy and quirky to end up being so gorgeous. If these are the types of feeling all of Gaiman's work leaves people with, then I need to buy the rest of his books ASAP. I can't stop thinking about it. The Hempstocks are so intriguing, as are the revelations our narrator had as a child. Childhood is important to our understanding of the world, even if we can't make sense of what we see.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is full of imagination and beautiful passages that I just want to reread forever.