[DWJ] Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane (may include spoilers)

D.J. Natelson debrisoftheages at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jul 12 16:58:18 EDT 2013


As it so happens, I just finished Gaiman's book yesterday.  I quite like many of his books (I even went to a Graveyard Book signing), but this is very low on my list.  I might give it a 3/5 star review, and that much only because his prose are good.  
 
I've tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but there are by necessity some.  Do not read further if you want to totally avoid spoilers!
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS
First, when it begins, the fantasy element feels vastly out of place.  In fact, at about page 45, I stopped and looked up at my roommate and said something to that effect -- it was that pronounced.  Luckily, it soon became integrated more fully, but the problems didn't end there.
 
Second, the protagonist is very inactive.  He was basically the damsel in distress so that our knowledgeable and powerful side characters could do all the work.
 
Third, the villain was like a watered down version of the villain in Coraline -- and, as in point two -- our protagonist didn't have to beat her.  Gaiman really tried to tell the reader that no, the protagonist was strong because he trusted these other characters . . . yeah, fine.  Whatever.  In Coraline, Coraline had to be smart despite having no magic.  In this one, the protagonist simply has to sit back and wait for everything to be taken care of for him.  The villain therefore ended up looking weak and pathetic, and she was very, very easily beaten.
 
Fourth, the ending.  The cheating, vile, wretched, horrible ending.  It's on par with Alice in Wonderland's "it was all a dream" ending.  Everything else, I could have put up with, but his cheating ending infuriated me.  As you probably can tell from this review.
 
As for the Time of the Ghost (which I also reread recently), I didn't see many similarities at all.  In fact, aside from the frame narrative, the Ocean at the End of the Lane had exceedingly little to do with memory.  It was, as above, basically a watered-down mediocre version of Coraline.  The closest similarity would be in the fact that the protagonist had a distant rocky relationship with his parents, especially his father.
 
Overall, the book (ending aside) wasn't terrible.  But nor was it good.  The prose kept me from being completely bored.  It was an exercise in mediocrity and an attempt to replicate a former success.  But I can hardly express how vastly disappointed I am in Neil Gaiman.  He's better than this.
 
(Plus, side note -- without the unfortunate frame narrative and the brief and unnecessary references to sex, this could easily have been middle-grade.  I think that just adds to the disjointedness of it, which didn't help.)


More information about the Dwj mailing list