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January Read

To start off 2021 in reading, I actually didn't start with a new read. I am continuing two reads from last year, which are taking me some time to read for different reasons: one is over 600 pages long, and the other is just dragging on. So, since I knew I wouldn't finish either before the month was over, I picked up a read I bought the other day - under 250 pages - Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

I love Neil Gaiman's style. He just has such a distinct way of writing that I find creative and fun. After reading American Gods, I knew I had to read more of his work. This book is quite different. It's about a man who comes back to his childhood home and starts to remember the peculiar and strange things that occurred back when he was a boy.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Good

Because this is a book largely based on flashback, Gaiman's writing of memory is so clean. Some things that do happen make me question if it really did happen, but again, that's the cool thing about writing with a focus on memory. (And also, it is Neil Gaiman - so expect the bizarre to be a normal part of our world.)

The perspective from a child was done really well, too. It wasn't too whiny or victim based, it was just a solid depiction. There were so many observances of the little things that we notice as children that we don't appreciate as much when adults.

This book was also super easy to read and fast paced. No need to think too much or even rely too much on imagination. Gaiman's descriptions were very robust and clear, which I appreciate in making the reading experience easy for me.

The Bad

While I enjoyed this book, I didn't find it particularly exciting or moving or anything. I really just read it for the writing more than anything. I don't know how I feel about books whose target audience is adults with kids as the main characters. It sort of feels like sometimes there's a message to adults saying how they need to be more childlike, which I sometimes feel is pushed a bit too much in our faces.

Neil Gaiman doesn't steer away from explicit scenes in his other work, and what I liked about this one is that it was tame, though it had its own subtle explicities. There was a scene where our main character remembered seeing two adults engaging in intercourse, as well as seeing a naked character. So I don't know how necessary portraying these benefitted the story. Though, again, this is supposed to be an adult read, so maybe it doesn't really matter that much.

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