Well, I couldn’t let M. Otaku have all the say on this great book. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is my favorite novel by Neil Gaiman. (I also loved Coraline, so there are not any real disagreements here.) I want to push back a little bit, though, on the idea that Coraline is better because Coraline takes care of herself. In a way, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is more like a true fairy tale. Consider the following: 1) an ordinary boy sets off on an ordinary road and finds something very extraordinary; 2) the ordinary boy survives/ succeeds only by the direct assistance of other beings who are vastly more than they seem; 3) the boy comes home again, not really through his own effort, but by obeying the second weird rule having put himself in all the danger by breaking the first.
Point 1 applies to both Coraline and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but in 2 and 3 they diverge. In a way, Coraline may be considered a type of Superman who, through her own wit, strength, and will conquers the ‘other mother’. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the boy is a type of the Christian view a mankind, essentially powerless and under assault from evil forces far outside his ability to even comprehend; in need of a champion in the fight. The boy, through the instinct of his nature, disobeys the first of what we can call the ‘Dont eat the fruit of this one tree’ type commands. And, after being plagued by the repercussions of his disobedience, flees to those who can save him. Then, though sorely tempted, he obeys the second (to stay in the fairy ring) and is saved….
(As a side note, strange rule set for the protagonist by those assisting him is very very common in fairy tales. The two I am thinking of in The Ocean at the End of the Lane are even understandable in comparison.)
(( As a side note after the side note… I thought that The Ocean at the End of the Lane was more poetic and better wrought…))
Anyway, I guess I didn’t like that Coraline fixes everything on her own, it seemed so… impossible.