Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

I really enjoyed this book. It was a short, quick read, and it held my attention well. It was a little more bare-bones than I typically like, by which I mean that the author provided only as many details as strictly needed to tell the story at hand. The setting and characters seemed so interesting that I wanted to know much more about them than what I was given.

 

The entire book is told from the perspective of a seven-year-old boy, with the exception of the framing prologue and epilogue which are told from his perspective after he’s an older man. First of all, to explain why I keep endlessly referring to him as “the boy” in this review, it’s because we’re never actually told his name. Nobody ever once refers to him by name, and he never mentions his own name in his internal thoughts. Actually, I don’t think we’re ever told the names of any of his family members either. They’re just referred to as “my sister” or “my father” or “my mother”.

 

It’s difficult to describe what this book is about without giving anything away, so I’ll try to keep it simple. The boy meets the family who live in the farmhouse at the end of the same lane he lives on. The family is made up of an eleven-year-old girl, her mother, and her grandmother. The girl, Lettie, befriends the boy and he quickly learns that there’s more to these people than meets the eye. Strange things start happening in the area that put the boy in danger. Lettie and her family try to deal with the situation and protect the boy.

 

The boy is a sympathetic character, and I cared about what happened to him and easily got caught up in his story. I think his voice was realistic in terms of his age. He came across to me as a pretty normal seven-year-old boy, and not particularly precocious as is often the case when adults try to write about children. He’s shy and he doesn’t really have any friends, and he loves nothing more than to read. He seems a little disconnected from his family, or maybe it’s just because his family wasn’t fleshed out very well. They never felt very real to me and I didn’t like any of them, but I did want to know more about them. Lettie and her family, on the other hand, I really liked and I wanted to know a whole lot more about them too.

 

So, in summary, the story was very good but skimpy on the details. It left me wanting more, which I guess is better than wanting less, but I felt a little unsatisfied at the end. It was sort of like going to a restaurant, sharing a delicious appetizer with my friends, and then leaving without ever eating an actual meal.