The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimen

I thought this book was absolutely fantastic. The novel was beautifully written and I got lost into the story easily. I think it was so effective because it had such a rare style of writing which I find quite refreshing after much of same!

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a novel told following a man (he remains nameless) returning from a funeral and reliving the events that took place 40 years earlier. So the novel is written from his point of view, but as a 7-year-old.

There is complex plot, but I will skim over it as lightly as possible without missing anything too essential. As the protagonist returns to his childhood neighbourhood he revisits a house where his childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock, used to live. Confronted by a member of her family, he sits down and suddenly all the memories come flooding back about his childhood.

The main narrative starts as the protagonist recalls the suicide of an opal miner in his father’s car, who was boarding in the then-boy’s house, as a result of gambling all his money away. As it turns out, this death allowed a supernatural being to enter this world, who would leave money for people in ghastly ways. Apparently.

Then the protagonist finds a coin stuck in his throat overnight. Unsure what to do he seeks help of his neighbour Lettie Hempstock. Lettie immidiately insists to find and bind the spirit right-away, and to NEVER let go of her hand. Unfortunately he, in a moment of shock, did and as a result has to pull a worm-like thing out of his foot. But even after that there were still heavy traces of the worm-like creature inside him.

The next day his mother starts working full-time and the boy is introduced to a woman, Ursula Monkton, who was sent to look after the boy and his sister. But instead she intergrates herself into the family and subsequently seduces his father and wins over his sister favour. Soon he realises that she was the worm in his foot and is slowly shunned from his own family.

As a consequence the boy spent most the time in his room, avoiding Ursula, he manages to escape to the Hempstock’s farm. One crazy adventure (and a sacrifice attempt) later the worm hole is removed from the boy and Lettie has nearly died. Lettie was then placed in the ocean to recover until she was ready to return to this world, but as we are told this we fade back to the present and it is clear that protagonist will remember none this, the cold hard facts, the next morning.

As it is written from a seven years old point of view as we read more and more we realize we can’t trust him and take his word for granted. This means you have to work things out for yourself, which I enjoyed although once or twice I did get confused as to what was actually going-on. Although, now I’m questioned whether what happens in the plot is actually reality and that we are too narrow-minded to accept that a boy, of seven, could be seeing something so fantastic.

There are some wonderful characters in the novel, which are described so uniquely and that is partially why I enjoyed this book so much.

This book is so interesting because it reminds us as their perception of the world. I thought that there was some great imagery and the plot flowed really well. There are also classic themes of good the balance of good and evil and the need to survive but written so unusually I didn’t get bored.

Overall, I absolutely loved it and would recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane to anyone!

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Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

I was looking forward to reading this book, after all it promised to be a ”psychological  thriller” and there were reviews claiming it to be to be ‘awesome’ (“I kinda hoped it would be awesome. It was.” from the book smugglers website) so when I put the book down, I was thoroughly disappointed.

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Revolver is set in the late 19th century, or early 20th, in Nome or the Arctic Circle. One day in 1910, Sig, a teenager, finds his father next to a hole in the ice. Puzzled, for his father knew better then to trek across this patch of ice, Sig hauled his frozen body home.  Now he is alone, is father’s body on the kitchen table, waiting for his sister and stepmother to return from a nearby town, with help.

Then there was a knock at the door. A man was waiting.Gunther Wolff. And to Sig’s horror, he was armed with a Colt revolver. Sig was starting to panic, and then his sister comes back. With no help, no one to help the siblings or save them from their inevitable fate.

The novel has the layout that there are chapters alternating between Sig in the shack, or Einar (and the rest of his family) in Nome, so as the story unfolds we understand more about Wolff’s unbelievable claim to gold.

I didn’t think this book was good, or great or “awesome”. Exciting things happen, I totally agree. I would think a murderer, a hunter and a obsessor rolled into one would make the perfect enemy. But Sedgwick failed to make me like the characters.        When Wolff said ‘which one of you do I have to shoot to make the other one tell me where the gold is’ (or something like that) my heart didn’t even race. Fine, let one of them die. Whatever.                                                                                                                     I don’t care what happens just so long as I can put the book down one last time. Sedgwick just didn’t write with the spark that captures my attention. I think he had a good plot and I am sure Revolver appeals to lots of audiences but I am not a part of that group. I didn’t like his style in Revolver as I felt it lacked energy. Of course, I must add that this is the only book of his I’ve read, but still, after all the nominations and awards he’d receive I’d expected something gripping, a page turner and thought-provoking. I found out that Sedgwick provided none of those.

It was clear Sedgwick had done his research, and no one who has done hours of research wants to miss a chance of showing this off in their book. On the other hand you can you at bit extreme and just throw all the knowledge you have at them. I don’t necessarily think that Sedgwick did this, but it was near enough that I thought some of the details were irrelevant. Like when, for example, Sig puts on his reindeer skin boots, or boots with some other pelt on the inside. The point is, that, please trust the reader, they know he’s not going to go out in flip-flops!

The main themes in this book is trust in what you know in, but at the same finding his own message to trust in. Revolver is a story about how the mistakes and things you do in the past will always catch up with you (a bit cliché), as well as poverty, desperation, the will to live and mindless violence.

I personally wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone, except perhaps a really eager boy who wanted something to read and wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t great. i don’t think that this is the type of book which will bring the non-readers into reading. I’m sorry to say that I over-estimated this book and was thoroughly disappointed.