In keeping with my decision to be contrary whenever I can get away with it, I'm going to kick off an allegedly political blog with a non-political post.
Ladies and Gentlemen and Folks Who Know There Is No Box, my reviews of:
Raising Steam - Terry Pratchett
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
There might be spoilers and there will certainly be not nice things written so leave now if either upsets you...
OK, let's get Pratchett out of the way. And let's do it in one word:
I been wanting to write about this book since I read it a couple of months ago and I can't get past that one word.
Maybe this would be a great book for someone new to Pratchett, I don't know. This must be the 43 1/2th book I've read by him and it certainly has a lot more of the trademark Discworldy Pratchettness than, say, The Colour of Magic. But it also has a distinctly bootlegged feel. Rather like - to drag another author in here - what would happen if Jurisfiction had to replace a book's entire cast all at once with a bunch of B and C characters.
And another thing: Young Sam is not in this book. This starts off as mildly puzzling and becomes very problematic until you're turning each page and wondering where the boy has gotten to and thinking someone should smack him when he does turn up.
Also, I'd be interested to know why Vimes ripped off his shirt in the middle of a fight with dwarves.
Enough, this is depressing. Time for his former writing partner, Neil Gaiman.
O.K., so if you read Good Omens (and if you haven't, you should fix that), you remember it as a very funny book with a host of interesting characters including some not inaccurate child characters.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is not Good Omens. OK, you say, Good Omens was co-authored by Terry Pratchett, so it is unfair to expect Gaiman to write it on his own. True.
I will also say that The Ocean at the End of the Lane is not American Gods. It is not Coraline or Stardust or the not too awful The Graveyard Book.
Here's a thing. I was not going to read this book. This probably isn't Gaiman's fault, but charging full whack for a book that doesn't even hit 200 pages is cock-knobbery and I wanted nothing to do with it.
And perhaps this is weird, but I followed him on Twitter for a while and I found him a bit of a bore. This is why we should ignore people who produce things we like until they do something really cackwitted or they're dead.
And the reviews didn't make me eager to pick it up at the library.
However. A co-worker started a reading club a couple of weeks ago and after I said the only book on the proposed list that I might read was OAEL, they decided to read that book. So in the interest of not being a complete dick at all times, I picked it up at the library.
What to say? How about: On the back of the book there is a blurb from Erin Morgenstern, which begins "I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane in one sitting."
On reading this I snottily rolled my eyes and thought finishing an 178 page book in one sitting a sad thing to boast about.
I tried to read the fucker.
Unholy Mother of Wilbur Whateley, is this thing duller than a hard boiled egg or what?
Trick question. It is duller than a dozen boiled eggs.
The main character is a colorless man who has a flashback to when he was a colorless little boy and then not much at all happens for approximately 117 zillion pages and then the sun goes nova and you don't have to read any more, hooray! Just kidding it only seems that long.
As an added bonus it is in the first person, so the dreary dullness of the man/kid is right there in your face at all times and you can't get away from the little shit and you start to wish that something particularly gruesome and fatal would happen to him for about 100 pages, so you have something to laugh about but of even that faint hope Gaiman deprives you because of the aforementioned boring ass adult bloke so you know he survives, damn it.
One day I will write about children as they are portrayed in literature, but for now I am already pissed off enough for one evening.
Let me reiterate that this book is dull, the narrator is dull. Some of the characters are slightly less dull and some not completely dull things happen a few times here and there, one of the first things being the death of a kitten, which really should be all the warning you need to close this book and re-read American Gods.
Let me conclude by saying there is no reason for anyone to ever write the following or any variations thereof, but Gaiman did perhaps due to creeping hackdom: "...the kind of tomatoes that actually taste like something."
Seriously, everyone but especially authors. It is time to shut the hell up about the flavor of solanum lycopersicum, even if you're being tongue n' cheeky get off my lawny ironical for fun. Find another fruit or vegetable or animal with which to illustrate the freshness or wholesomeness or realness of a meal, you morons.
And in case it isn't clear, I do not recommend this book.