Rating | 3.5/5
Man I heard wonderful things about this book. I heard amazing things about all of Neil Gaiman books in general. But I felt like it let me down a little. Don’t get me wrong, it was a haunting story, but it was a little random. I think the power is more in the way the story was told.
It was very chilling and creepy. Told from the view of a seven year old, we are missing a lot of information. Things look big and scary. Adults seem all powerful. I connected with the kid easily. He’s scared, shy, and loves books. But the story was also hindered a little, because we are never given many explanations. The child doesn’t know much and he is never really told much. He just witnesses the reality. Things are always confused, and they stay muddled. Fleas and varmints, the Hempstocks, the Ocean, and the Universe are all just some things we encounter. But I never really, fully understood their origin.
I guess it was a lot of pretty settings and moods, but not much more. The language and the messages told, were both really beautiful and surreal, even if the story itself was arbitrary. He created a mystical environment in less that 200 pages. It takes some authors three books to get the feeling of the story perfect. His characters were also very bright and clear. The boy, the Hempstocks, Ursula Monkton; they were all very powerful characters and had a lot of impact.
And the one thing I can say with distinction is that, this book contrasted the adult world and the child’s world perfectly. It was easy to see that adults are not as infallible as they pretend to be. Children can often perceive more than is believed and they understand things very differently from adults. It reminded me to make sure that adults should also keep a bit of the children they are. Not to grow up to fast. It’s also about making sure we appreciate the sacrifices people make for us, and to live our lives accepting that others helped us to get there.
I think that I am very pleased that this book was my first Neil Gaiman story. I got a feel for the fantasy that he writes. It was also very short and strangely pretty, but it was missing some clarifying points. It looped on, adding more supernatural elements, and I guess I was left wanting a little more background. Actually, I was left…feeling a little unsettled and discontented. But maybe that’s the point.