I don't know what I was expecting from this book, but it wasn't that. And yet, it's probably spot on for Gaiman. So what do I know?
I'm not sure how much I'm supposed to say because in reading the back of the book synopsis and other reviews, I just didn't realize that this story was so out there. Whoever was tasked with writing that synopsis stuck on his best poker face and really kept his hand close.You read the back and think, "okay, some guy visits a childhood friend's home and remembers stuff." Whatever. Maybe it's the crazy adventure to the creek or that epic slumber party.
Suffice to say, when things took a left turn (and it was abrupt) I was a bit surprised. My suspension of disbelief hadn't warmed up yet, I guess. Gaiman throws you right into his world where otherwordly creatures live amongst us mere mortals. I know all you Gaiman groupies are rolling your eyes right now in your best "er-doy" expression, but humor me.
The story is sufficiently creepy. Some of the imagery Gaiman evokes made my spine tingle. And the story seemed blissfully compact. I don't know how Gaiman told it in the number of pages he did, because it didn't seem as long as it was. There weren't any moments where I was bored or felt the action or tension really eased, yet I wasn't exhausted from all the excitement. I know I'm making myself sound like some kind of geriatric reader, "Oh the tension! It was too much! I need a nap."
I realize at this point in the review, I've normally given a better synopsis of the story. But like I said, I'm not sure what to say. Basically, if you already know you like Gaiman, I think this book won't disappoint. If you've never read him, it's a pretty good intro to his stuff. I definitely liked it better than some of his other books I've read. *ducks and hides*
Some interesting tidbits I got from Wikipedia about this tale, his characters, the Hempstocks, have appeared in other books, like Stardust and The Graveyard Book. He also wrote this book for his wife, who doesn't like fantasy. And some elements are drawn from his own childhood (like how someone stole his dad's car and commit suicide in it). Creepy.
A film may be in the works...the rights were bought a few years ago, and Tom Hanks is a producer. Should be interesting.