The Goldfinch and The Ocean at the End of the Lane [mini reviews]

The Goldfinch coverThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: October 22nd 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Series: none

Goodreads description: A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes entranced by the one thing that reminds him of his mother, a small, mysteriously captivating painting that soon draws Theo into the art underworld

I’ve seen The Goldfinch on some best of the year lists and prominently displayed at bookstores. I wasn’t even sure what this book was about, but I decided to give it a go! As the description states, Theo survives a traumatic experience but loses his mom. Afterwards, he has to find a place to live, people to connect with, and a way to move on.

I found it easy to empathize with Theo most of the time, but sometimes I just did not understand his choices. He made mistakes, which is normal. He was going through a lot and mainly on his own. However, I could never really follow how he made some decisions, and the more he did, the less I cared. I was really close to not finishing this book, but the underlying mystery of the painting kept me going.  I know there was a message intended to go with the story, but only because it’s clearly stated in the last few pages. I can kind of see what the gist of it was, with choices and mistakes and connections, but I also feel like I did not get anything from this book on a personal level. I understand what it was trying to do, but I didn’t feel much about it.

Annoyances: Two different times (maybe more) the narrator just tells you something will happen or you’ll see a character again. The summary at the end of the book was very “here’s what this was.”

The Goldfinch didn’t really work for me, but it could very well just be me. The Goodreads average is 4.18! Have you read it? Do you plan to read it? 

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane coverThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: June 18th 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Series: none

Goodreads description: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

I have such mixed results with Gaiman’s work. I really loved Good Omens, thought Stardust was okay, can’t get through American Gods (though I like the idea of what’s going on), and I didn’t really like The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Honestly, I found Ocean Lane boring. The concept of the other world/old world and the ocean itself were intriguing to me, but the actual story felt tired. For a fantasy, nothing really excited me or sparked my interest. I didn’t love the writing, either. It just felt like a variation of a lot of stories that have been told. The “bad guy” just felt like a caricature. I felt very detached from the whole story. I think there was a lot of deep and meaningful messages being hinted at because of the paragraph I left out of the GR description, but I couldn’t feel the message.  I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t find anything to hold onto from it.

Sadly, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was also not for me. It also seems widely loved and the GR average is 4.05. Have you read this one? Do you plan to?