Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 162 (Paperback)
Genre: Children’s Fiction/Horror/Children’s Fantasy
Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.
Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what’s what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we’re hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book’s eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best. (Summary taken my goodreads.com)
SPOILERS ALERT! SPOILERS ALERT!
It’s Coraline, not Caroline…
Lets take a moment to appreciate how creepy this story is in its entirety - little family moves into a big scary house that has a little door that leads to alternate reality with Coraline’s “other” family… That is creepy. But I totally understand the appeal, because her real parents ignore her, and the other parents spoil and treat her like a princess.
Wybie or no Wybie?
In the movie, there’s a character named Wybie, whose grandmother owns the big creepy house that’s been sectioned into apartments for rent. He’s a strange boy who knows little about the house’s superstitions, but is the one who gives Coraline the little doll that is what spies on her in her real life, leading her to the other reality; in the book, however, Wyborne is non-existent, and Coraline has to do and figure everything out alone. The rats, or “jumping mice”, serve as the other mother’s spies. Do I like having Wybie as a part of Coraline’s story? Yes, the movie is done well having him in there, connecting her to the outside world; it’s a creative way to explain and set up the story without having to stretch for it. The book is done well in the aspect of showing Coraline’s bravery, independence and strength on her own.
So the characters are pretty spot on - I find both version creepy and a little unsettling. It’s a very interesting concept and Neil Gaiman’s done a beautiful job at keeping it innocent for children but having enough charm that makes it not scary. I guess it can be debated the moral of the story is to “appreciate what you have” because what might replace what you lose you may not like.
The cat, in both versions, is great. I really love claymation, and how they made all of the characters in the movie. It really brought Gaiman’s creepy little world to life in a way that live action or cartoons couldn’t.
(Sorry I don’t have much to say about this one, it’s a really short book, but I do have a quote from a reader on goodreads.com below about Coraline.)
Overall, this story is a good one. It’s simple, but creepy, fun for children. I think it would’ve scared me as a child so reading it to really young children might need discretion, but definitely share it with them. I loved the imagination of it all; it’s a beautiful world to live it. I recommend this to anyone who likes weird and creepy. Also, see the movie. It’s awesome!
Quote from Catie, a reader from goodreads.com, who rated Coraline 4 out of 5 stars:
“This would be a perfect choice for a road trip with small children (maybe age seven and up or so). It’s an incredibly imaginative, quirky adventure that’s simple yet not excruciatingly so. I felt entertained throughout, and some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud. There’s no question that this book is creeeeeepy but I’m one of those people that believes kids can handle a lot more than watered down fluff books. Coraline is such a wonderful heroine: she’s a clever, matter of fact, singular girl with an awesome fashion sense (Day-glo green gloves and yellow wellington boots that look like frogs? YES.) and a quiet determination to succeed even though no one takes her seriously. The stakes are high, the villain is completely unsettling and evil, and Coraline is alone, but she triumphs! It is very satisfying.”