The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman | Book Review

ocean

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman follows an unnamed narrator as he recalls strange/terrifying events from his childhood involving a young girl named Lettie Hempstock and her family.

Gaiman’s book is definitely different. It’s one of those books where things just kind of happen. The fantastical elements all come with little explanation. However, the book hints at some lore behind what’s going on (but there’s never really any detailed explanation, everything is vague. It is a short book after all).

I don’t think this is a problem for the novel since it ends up working. The story is still very captivating with all its strangeness. I thought the dynamic between the narrator and Lettie was very well done.

There’s a villain named Ursula Monkton that has some prominence in the story but she isn’t the only obstacle the narrator face. I thought she had the potential to be a great villain but the book doesn’t really do much with her by the end. So, that’s a slight flaw but I will say other elements make up for it. I thought the imagery was good, for example.

I can’t say this book is for everyone. Like I said, things just kind of happen. There’s many references to other worlds, creatures, etc. but nothing that goes into detail. I found that a bit frustrating but I think the book was meant to have a fairy tale type feel.

Even though I thought Gaiman’s book was a nice little read…it still feels like there’s something missing by the end. Almost like it doesn’t reach its full potential. That’s why I can’t see myself putting it on a favorite list or anything. Still, it’s a nice read. 3.5/5

 

 

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The Child Thief by Brom | Book Review

child-thief

The Child Thief is a re-telling of Peter Pan. It follows a much darker version of the tale, not surprisingly. Taking place on a magical island, the book features Peter and the group of children he has a stolen – most of them from abused, broken homes. The island isn’t as magical as it used to be, in fact, it’s a dangerous place.

Brom’s The Child Thief is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. As a retelling it expands on and does something very new with the original source material.

Turning Peter Pan into a darker character isn’t necessarily new but I think Brom does it the best. I wouldn’t call Brom’s peter evil – or good, for that matter. He’s just a very complex character capable of both terrible and great things.

The Flesh Eaters are the main villains of the story – they’re old world Christians who came to the island/Avalon, and somehow the magic turned them into deformed, cruel creatures. The imagery of them was very unique. They were one of the coolest aspects of the book.

Like Peter and the other children, the flesh eaters are complex. I like that the novel gives them some background and gives the reader a chance to decide to sympathize or hate them. It certainly isn’t easy to decide on either one.

Peter has a group of lost boys (and a few girls) that follow him, of course. Most of them are decent. A lot of focus is put on “Nick,” the only one who really questions Peter’s actions.

Character-wise my only issue was with the characterization of Sekeu, she had the potential to be a really awesome character but I felt that the novel doesn’t use her to her full potential. And it’s just sad to see a badass female character go to waste.

The Child Thief is essentially satisfying from beginning to end. In fact, I think it will end up going on my favorite list.

4.5/5

The Secret of Platform 13 vs Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

HARRY POTTER VS SECRET

Recently, I read the children’s book The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. And like millions of others, I’ve been a big fan of the Harry Potter series since I was a kid. There are some similarities between Platform 13 and the first Harry Potter, some people have claimed that Rowling full-blown plagiarized Ibbotson’s book. Platform 13 was first published in 1994, while the first Harry Potter was first published in 1997. Well, I don’t think Rowling plagiarized, maybe slightly inspired by, but not full blown plagiarism. However, it is fun to compare the two books and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll look at both books strengths and weaknesses, in a one on one battle. The categories I chose to compare them on are: writing, creativity, world-building, action/journey and friendship/characters.

Writing: Ibbotson’s writing style is very childish , which is okay since it is a children’s book. However, I feel the writing won’t win over that many adult readers. Rowling’s writing is easily read by both adults and children. It’s simple, easy and fun but not too childish. So, I would have to give the writing category to Rowling. 1 for Rowling.

Creativity: Both of the books have some common children’s books tropes but still are creative in many ways. What I liked the most about Platform 13 was that there was so many good ideas there. One of the main characters, Odge Gribble, is a young hag. I thought that was such a great and unique idea for a character. In fact, I would have liked the book to be completely about Odge. There’s also a minor character named Doreen Trout, she’s an old woman/bodyguard that attacks with knitting needles. She’s considered one of the best. This is also a very awesome idea for a character and I wish the book had more of her. Overall, out of the two books I feel Platform 13 had the better ideas but didn’t use those ideas to their full potential. Still, I feel Ibbotson deserves the win in this category. 1 for Ibbotson.

World-Building: Both of these feature magical worlds that can be accessed via a platform. The problem I had with Platform 13 is we don’t actually spend a lot of time in the magical world. Instead we mainly follow a few magical beings through the real world as they try to complete their task. I didn’t like this. In Harry Potter, the readers get plenty of time in Hogwarts and the wizarding world. And Rowling’s world is much more vivid and well constructed. So Harry Potter wins this part (even when judging with just the first book), hands down. 1 to Rowling.

Action/Journey: Again, Platform 13’s characters spend too much time in the real world. It was getting old after awhile. Harry Potter kept me interested the whole time and built up the action appropriately. This was easy to chose. 1 to Rowling.

Characters/Friendship: The only character that I found interesting in Platform 13 was Odge and Doreen. Ben was okay, he’s the quintessential boy in a children’s book – selfless, humble and sweet. You see him a lot in children’s books, especially early children’s literature. There was some focus on friendship in the book, but it wasn’t presented well enough for me to be considered a powerful friendship. Harry Potter’s characters have entranced millions of people…and I can see why. Rowling’s characters definitely leave an impact. Harry was criticized as being too perfect in the first book, I can see that to some extent. But Harry almost had to be built up the way he was in the first book, he gets humbled later down the series. Overall, Rowling gives more attention to her characters and that’s why she wins this part. 1 for Rowling.

So this means Rowling: 4, Ibbotson: 1. Rowling wins! Now, please don’t think I’m biased. I love Harry Potter but I wouldn’t mind seeing a book that surpasses the series. In fact, I think The Edge Chronicles and School for Good and Evil series could beat it, in my eyes that is.

But exactly where are Harry Potter and Platform 13 similar? In mainly these following ways:

-There’s a platform that goes into a magical world.

-There’s a special boy treated poorly (typical in children’s lit)

-Raymond Trottle is a lot like Dudley Dursley (But fat, obnoxious kid is not an uncommon character type)

-There’s an old wizard (Again, not an uncommon character type.)

In the end, I don’t think there was any plagiarism. There’s just not enough similarities. Although I enjoy reading Harry Potter more, Platform 13 is a more original book that doesn’t do enough.