Posts Tagged ‘Neil Gaiman


Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 52: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Unknown-1Longtime readers may remember that Neil Gaiman and I have a bit of an up-and-down relationship. Sometimes (Stardust, Neverwhere), he and I are on the same page. Sometimes (Coraline, The Graveyard Book), I have trouble deciding what I think about him. And sometimes (hello, American Gods), I just can’t even. I think a lot of my issues with Neil Gaiman boil down to the fact that I am a geek, and therefore, I am supposed to love Neil Gaiman. And while I think he is a wonderfully talented and imaginative writer, he just might not be the writer for me.

And this is pretty much how I felt while reading TOATEOTL (how’s that for an acronym?). I liked it just fine. I thought parts of it were quite lovely, actually. But did I love it? No. Would I put it at the top of a list of my books of the year? No. But should you read it? Sure. Yes. Indeed.

By now, almost everyone knows the story. An unnamed narrator returns to his childhood home for a funeral. While visiting his former neighborhood, he starts to remember things he hasn’t thought of in 40 years…and the story takes off from there.

Mostly told from the perspective of a bookish, lonely, 7 year old boy, we are soon thrown into a story of memories. And the thing about memories is…are they always completely reliable? Does our now-grown narrator actually believe the things he’s started to remember once he pulls up to the Hempstock farmhouse? Or does he just not want to believe these things, because, really, how could they possibly be true?

I liked the fact that the bulk of the story was told by a 7 year old. I liked his innocence and the complete trust he had in his new friend Lettie. I loved his ability to be bowled over by a delicious piece of honeycomb, when really, he had other things he should have been worrying about. And I loved the pure way that he looked at the world and its people, in a very black/white, good/evil manner.

And to be honest, I liked a lot more about the story. And I found it pretty scary. The stuff with his dad and the bathtub? Terribly frightening. The woman made of pink and grey cloth? Eek!

So what am I so “bleh” about? Honestly, I’m not even sure. But I just don’t “enjoy” the Neil Gaiman experience as much as I would like. This wasn’t a very long book, but I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me over a week to read it. I just didn’t really care. The pages (some of which, yes, were beautifully written), just didn’t call out to me. Sorry.

But I’ll keep trying. One of these days the right Neil Gaiman book might just come along, and I’ll be ready for it when it does.


Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #24: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Bunnybean took Coraline out of the library a few weeks ago and started to read it…we thought maybe we would read it at the same time and then present a Cannonball Point-Counterpoint type of review.  And then about two chapters in she started to get scared.  And she put the book down and happily took off with Laura Ingalls Wilder, leaving me alone to figure out another Neil Gaiman book.

As previously mentioned, Neil Gaiman and I have had a rough relationship.  I loved Neverwhere, and really liked Stardust.  I couldn’t finish American Gods, and was lukewarm about The Graveyard Book. But I feel like I’m supposed to love Gaiman’s books, and that if I keep trying, someday I will.

Coraline found me taking steps in the right direction.  I enjoyed the story of the bored little girl who finds a dark, alternate version of her world on the other side of a walled-off door in her family’s new apartment.  I haven’t seen the movie, but had an easy time picturing the differences between the real characters and the “others”, with their button eyes and pasty, clay-like flesh. The descriptions were simple, and yet incredibly detailed, and there was much to be appreciated. Simple little sections really stuck with me, in particular Coraline remembering her father’s bravery when they were attacked by a swarm of wasps. I loved the realism of that anecdote being remembered while Coraline was in a totally un-real situation in her “other” world.

I totally understand Bunnybean’s reluctance to continue with the story. Even though we found this in the Children’s section of the library, I’m thinking that the intended reader age is probably slightly older than 7. When I asked her what scared her, it wasn’t the dark hallways, the scary noises, or the unknown world that Coraline was facing, it was the button eyes.  She was petrified of the button eyes.



Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #9: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I just finished reading The Graveyard Book, which I found in the children’s section of my library, and I started to read it, sitting comfortably in a sunny window seat, while my two year-old played with blocks and puzzles (I love my library), and thought to myself, “it doesn’t get much better than this”.

I don’t know why, but I always feel guilty when I finish a Neil Gaiman book (this is my third and a half — I didn’t finish one) and find that I didn’t LOVE it.  I guess I feel like I’m SUPPOSED to love his stuff…but I just don’t.  I like it just fine, but I don’t love it.  I like him enough that I’ve continued to pick up more of his books, but not enough to call myself a “fan”, or to finish the one book that I put aside when I lost interest.

The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, an orphaned baby who’s entire family was brutally murdered by “the Man Jack” in the first pages of the story.  Bod crawls out of his crib and up the hill to the local graveyard, where the ghosts who rest there (along with Silas, the undead caretaker) promise his murdered family that they will look after the boy and protect him from Jack.

Bod grows from a baby to a young man, having adventures both inside and outside of the graveyard, with both the living and the dead.  And he always has the Man Jack in the back of his mind, and Bod wonders how and when he can get revenge for what Jack did to his family.

While I enjoyed the story of Bod’s youth and education in the graveyard, I didn’t love it.  I wanted to be dazzled and delighted, as so many others seem to be by Gaiman, and that’s how I think I’m supposed to feel when I’m reading his books.  But I certainly didn’t hate it.  It was an enjoyable and realistic (once you get past the ghosts, etc.) coming of age story, and one that I’d recommend to Bunnybean in a few years (at 7 years old, I don’t think she could handle the murder of the family).

FYI, the book I never finished was American Gods, and I do intend to try it again someday…I keep hoping that one of the books will be the ONE for me.


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