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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Thoughts on Pages #01: The Ocean at the End of the Lane


Hey, reader! Welcome to the very first book review I've written for this blog! :)
I enjoy reading, and I am so thrilled that I get to read for pleasure now that I've graduated from college. Also, I'm excited to read more, because it'll help me with my dream of becoming a bestselling author and such. 

So I had picked Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane up last summer, but never got the chance to fully read and soak it all in.

Boy, am I so glad that I picked this back up.

Storyline

The premise of this book revolves around an unnamed protagonist who is in town for a funeral. Without thinking, he makes a turn onto a lane, where he spent the majority of his childhood. He finds himself at a house at the end of a lane, where a very special fishing pond sits at its end. At this house, an old woman lives - presumably the mother of his childhood friend Lettie, who has moved away to Australia - and at that point, he remembers everything from when he was seven years old. It's from there that the story begins, as our protagonist recalls his memories and we get to experience them.

Characters

The protagonist is phenomenally written. There are points where I knew that I was reading from a child's perspective, and it made the crucial moments of the plot - especially the climaxes - feel much more real. Several moments tugged at my heartstrings, just because I'd gotten to know the character and felt for him when he was happy, sad, scared, or angry.

The protagonist's family was excellently written, but I didn't really care for them after a certain event happens with one of the villains. 

The Hempstock ladies are phenomenal. It was hard to grasp their lore and backstory, but once I did, I was blown away. I was always so happy when one of them would help or rescue the protagonist in various situations.

The villains in the story are creepy and incredibly fascinating. I disliked Ursula Monkton the most (when you read the book, you'll understand why; her being in the book makes this novel "adult"). I disliked the Hunger Birds less, but they were still creepy. Creepy in this sense is a good thing - I always think villains should be villains if there's a battle between good and evil involved, and in this book, there is.

Setting

The story takes place in Sussex, England. The contrast between the protagonist's family home and the Hempstock farm is excellent, just for the sake of showing how ordinary his home life had been, and how his visits to the Hempstocks not only help his life become more exciting, but also help him when ordinary life becomes unexpectedly scary.

The fantasy aspect of the setting - mainly, the Hempstock's farm and the titular Ocean at the end of the lane, along with all the magic involved - is incredible. You need to read the magical/fantastic parts carefully to really understand what's going on, but the fact that the lore is so thorough really adds magic to the story.

My Thoughts

I think it's safe to say that I loved this book. I loved Gaiman's Stardust, so I had a feeling this book would be phenomenal. I'm excited to check out even more of his work (I have my eye on Neverwhere in the future).

Overall, I give this book 5 adorable black kittens out of 5. The book tugged at my emotions and had me invested in both characters and plot, and I loved it.

If you have any book recommendations for me, let me know! I love YA and adult fiction, especially fantasy.
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