Review: ‘The Sandman’ 9 & 10

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The Sandman, 9-10
by Neil Gaiman

  • Date Finished: Nov. 4, 2015
  • Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy
  • Years: 1994, 1996
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading List: Fall 2015, NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction Novels
  • Grade: A
  • Thoughts:

I thought I would have more to say about finally finishing Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series than I do. I mean, this is the series. And it’s the Neil Gaiman. People really, really geek out about this guy, about what he writes, and about these particular 10 books.

And for good reason! What can I say about The Sandman series other than…it was really, really good! Ever since I started the series back in May, I’ve enjoyed visiting the complicated and slightly disturbing world Gaiman has created for us, and I’ve particularly enjoyed getting to know our (anti-)hero, Morpheus. There’s a lot to this series, and it can be a challenge to keep track of all the seemingly disparate stories and threads. But when Gaiman brings everything together, there are these wonderful moments of literary clarity and brevity that leave you in awe of this story, Gaiman’s craft, and the medium he’s chosen to use.

However, while there’s a lot going on in this series, sometimes it felt like there was too much going on as well. I like how Gaiman has created a world where modern reality and history interact with mythologies both familiar to us and new. However, at times I found myself trying to read characters that I sorta knew about, but not really, and because of that, I felt like I completely missed two or three layers of subtext.

And oh, there was subtext all over the damn place. If you’re smart, this book has about 10 different meanings and themes. But I didn’t always feel very smart reading this (I guess I could have looked some stuff up, but sometimes, I just want to be lazy), and so I felt bad about the things I missed. I don’t always “get” everything in books, and I don’t normally feel bad about it either. But in the case of The Sandman series, I always felt like there was that one thing that I was missing, and it was that one thing that everyone was so obsessed with. And because I couldn’t get it to come together in my head all at one time, I felt like I was missing out.

Plus, I’m not going to lie: I got very weary of all the long-winded prologues and epilogues written by one Famous Author after another. I get it, Neil Gaiman is essentially a genius, The Sandman defined a genre, and we are forever in his debt, and by the way, he’s like the nicest guy too, blah blah blah. Neil Gaiman: the guy is pretty great, and everyone loves The Sandman. Got it. Reading these things in 10 books, though – it gets tiring. I could have just not read them (I think I did skip a few in the middle), but there were some Analysis and Critical Interpretation bits scattered throughout these pieces, and as part of the FOMO I was feeling, I felt that it was necessary to read them anyway. But man, that was annoying. Even my BFF Stephen King wrote one, and I couldn’t stand it.

However, I think the best way for me to reflect on The Sandman series is to read some other kind of critical analysis of it. Not as part of a prologue to one of the books, but something entirely separate. This series, as I’ve said, is so multi-faceted, and there’s so much to catch and miss, and Neil Gaiman is really really smart. It’s a great series, and I want to understand it as best I can. I want to re-read it someday. I want to own it. I’m giving these books an ‘A’ because they really were great ends to a great series, but I hope to someday give these books a solid ‘A+’. Bear with me.

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