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Coraline

October 7, 2008

Book CoverFinally, I started reading for RIP III! My first forey into the horror genre this month was Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I have never read anything by this author and have to admit, unlike public blog opinion, I didn’t really love Coraline.

The premise is cool – A young girl moves with her parents into a flat in an old house. She is left to explore on her own while her parents practically ignore her, busy with their work lives. She discovers a door than enters into a home eerily similar to her own and that’s where she finds her other mother. At first, her other mother seems perfect. She pays attention to Coraline, makes her wonderfully home cooked meals and even gives her a room full of fanciful toys. The only real physical difference between her mother and this other mother are the eyes – two large, shiny black buttons. All is well until both her other parents tell her that if she really wants to stay with them forever and always, she has to do just one little thing…

They went into the kitchen. On a china plate on the kitchen table was a spool of black cotton, and a long silver needle, and, beside them, two large black buttons. “I don’t thinks so,” said Coraline.

That’s when the real trouble starts for Coraline.

I’ll admit that this was a pretty scary book and I mean that in a good way. Instead of blood and gore, Gaiman uses the feeling of foreboding to make you get creeped out. Similar to M. Night Shyamalan’s style of movie-making, Coraline was plenty frightening without being gratuitous. I probably won’t ever look at a shiny black button the same again.

Having said that, the book felt a little unfinished to me. I would have appreciated if the author discussed where the “other” mother came from. I understand that she is kind of like a witch, but I would have apprecaited finding out how she came to be on the other side of that door. This seems to be to be a huge plot hole that was never quite explained. Coraline is a novella for children and maybe that is where the problem lies. I gobbled this book up in practically one sitting and had it been a bit longer, with a little more detail throughout, then maybe I would have enjoyed more. I also found the illustrations by Dave McKean in my version of the book to be uninspiring. I much prefer the below posters for the movie version of Coraline coming out in 2009.

  Coraline Wondercon Poster

Even though I didn’t fall in love with this book, I appreciated the very creative idea of the storie and look forward to the movie. Based on the trailer and the “making of” videos below, the fact that I love this type of animated stop motion film-making and since it will be in 3-D, I’ll be sure to add this to my list of must see movies. 

All in all, Coraline was an interesting book, it just left me wanting more.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2008 1:28 pm

    Sounds like an interesting book. I’ve never read Gaiman either.

  2. October 7, 2008 2:00 pm

    I saw this book showcased on another blog awhile back and it caught my eye then, but then I forgot about it. The movie looks interesting. The story sounds utterly creepy though!

  3. October 7, 2008 7:16 pm

    This book sounds really creepy to me. And, it’s a kid book??

  4. October 7, 2008 9:06 pm

    I’m on the positive side when it comes to Coraline, but I have a really hit and miss relationship with Gaiman. I like your suggestion that it would’ve been nice to know about the Other Mother. I hadn’t thought about it!

  5. October 7, 2008 11:12 pm

    I don’t mind so much not knowing all about the other mother. I don’t mind there being a bit of mystery to stories and since this story was sort of based on the structure of Alice in Wonderland in that there is a world on the other side of the looking glass as it were I think the point was more of a ‘grass is always greener’ look at life. But that is just my thoughts. I would highly recommend that you read Gaiman’s latest book for this same age range, The Graveyard Book. It certainly shows a maturity in craft that shows growth beyond some of the issues you mention with Coraline and as much as I enjoyed Coraline, Graveyard Book is a much stronger story.

    Have to admit though, I’m a fan of McKean and I love his illustrations for Coraline. I think they fit the creepy mood of the story quite well. His illustrations for Graveyard Book are different..much more loose if that is the right term, but fit that story better than they would have had he used a similar style to what he did in Coraline.

  6. October 8, 2008 10:53 am

    This book creeped me out, although I absolutely agree that the “explanation” side of things was a bit light – it made it feel like stuff had been added in willy-nilly just for the sake of being creepy. Fine for the target age group, I guess, but I wanted a little more background!

  7. October 8, 2008 11:18 am

    I didn’t love Coraline either. People raved about it and I just wasn’t thrilled.

  8. October 8, 2008 1:34 pm

    I’m in the middle of reading Coraline right now and I’m not being terribly blown away. But I’m only about half-way through the book, so I might change my mind. I am, however, really excited that they’re making a movie out of this! I can’t wait to see it no matter how underwhelmed I may turn out to be with the book.

  9. October 8, 2008 5:33 pm

    I loved the book but you are absolutely right – what about the other parents? I didn’t even think about that. I think I was too busy being creeped out by those button eyes! haha…

    I’m so looking forward to the movie!

  10. October 10, 2008 9:35 pm

    I liked the book pretty well, but the movie looks absolutely awesome! I had the chance to see Neil Gaiman the other night and we watched a clip from the upcoming movie.

  11. October 14, 2008 8:25 pm

    I read it today and enjoyed it quite a bit. I didn’t mind the other mother mystery. I think it’s part of the charm. (I used the would ‘gobbled’ too 🙂 )

  12. October 21, 2008 3:56 pm

    This book is on my RIP list too! I tend to leave Gaiman’s books wishing for a little more information. I said this in my review of The Graveyard Book, but I feel like he tells a good story – without layers.

  13. October 23, 2008 10:03 am

    I’ve never read Gaiman, but I’m intrigued. This sounds like an interesting story. I love scary stories without gore. Thanks for the review!

  14. November 20, 2008 10:45 am

    I’ll definately love this! (trough never heard of the book)

  15. January 17, 2009 6:14 pm

    Coraline looks pretty good; it’s amazing how many big name actors they get for these animated flicks

  16. December 7, 2014 11:05 pm

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