Having had a bit of time and a few bucks to burn, I decided, today, to catch up with my old friend Neil Gaiman. He's just published a novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which, according to his wife, Amanda F. Palmer, he wrote in the span of 'a month or so'. Determined to outdo him in all things (I believe I am catching up on hair-frizziness), I sat in my favorite chair and endeavored to finish his novel in a day. All electronic devices that could possibly draw me away from my heroic task were crisply told to shut the hell up, all lights were dimmed and all the doors were shut.
I did it. I read all of The Ocean at the End of the Lane in the span of just a few hours, page by bloody page, taking breaks only for water. That's right: I only stopped reading for the sake of NOT DYING OF THIRST. And I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that I mean to do it again.
This is where this book review stops being a book review and starts to become a desperate admonition to read this book.
Are you new to Gaiman's works? Read this book. You will instantly know if Gaiman is your cup of tea by the time you finish the first chapter. It is not at all a difficult read, nor is it anywhere near as obscure in its elements as other works of his can be. You don't need to be a classics major or, say, a hardcore DC Comics fanatic to derive 100% enjoyment out of the world and narrative he builds. You will find the prose charming and unambiguous, and the characters at once mysterious and instantly relatable. And when you're done reading it, and you're half-glowing and half in tears, be merry! You have nearly 30 years of Gaiman to catch up on!
Are you a Gaiman devotee? Read this book. It is the essence of Gaiman as a 52-year-old man who is in love with his wife. A clever fan with a canny eye will spot certain similarities and references to other works of his. It's hard to tell if they were intentional or if he simply has a yen for certain tropes, but each time I spotted something familiar I grinned. The Ocean on the End of the Lane is as lean and as solid as Gaiman's storytelling gets, and it's just elusive enough to warrant a second read-through. (And perhaps a third, but, patience, I'm not ready for that yet.)
Are you one of those people who are like "oh, I don't like to read"? Read this book, stupid. For chrissakes, my edition was only something like 180 pages. You should be able to tackle that. And, hey, if you're inclined, there is a large print edition to make it easier for you to follow along. It will enrich your life with magic and wonder and things of that nature. There's even a naked lady in it, oh boy.
You can buy The Ocean on the End of the Lane at any respectable bookseller. Notice I said "buy". Do not pirate this book. I am checking the Pirate Bay right now and tracking all of your IPs. I have a very particular set of skills. I will look for you. I will find you. And I will yell at you. Here's the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Ocean-End-Lane-Novel/dp/0062255657
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE RATING: 1/1
READ THIS SHIT