Monday, March 22, 2010

BR: Coraline

by Neil Gaiman

So I got this book for $1 at my local library's (awesome) book sale, ripped off the barcodes/spine labels, so it now looks like a book I own... lol =p And it's in awesome condition as well :)

**This book is part of my Take Another Chance Challenge for #5- Title Word Count**

Coraline is about a girl who moves into a new flat with her family, and finds out that behind a door is nothing but a brick wall. Until one day, she unlocks that door and it leads her down a corridor to another flat just like her own...except the "mom" and "dad" on the other side are eerily similar, yet different from her real parents. At first, she loves this "other side" because of good food and good clothes, until she finds other children are trapped there, in the claws of her "other mom", who has decided to keep Coraline for herself forever... She needs to use her wit and courage to rescue these children's souls and finally find a way out of the flat herself.


This book is a book for all ages, and by this I mean it reads a lot less like a YA novel and more of a MG novel (which isn't exactly what I enjoy reading the most). Told in third-person, I felt that despite Gaiman's unarguable writing talent, I was being told a lot more than being shown. Snippets of genius writing where the description is vivid and the prose is strong would be followed by another, "Coraline did this now. And then did this, then that." I felt let down and usually, if this writing can be pushed aside for the amazing plot or story, I could let it go. However, it just didn't flow to a point where I forgot about it, it seemed as if the writing was all I noticed.

Here is an example: "Then she looked up and saw the expression on her other mother's face: a flash of real anger, which crossed her face like summer lightning, and Coraline was sure in her heart that what she had seen in the mirror was no more than an illusion.
Coraline sat down on the sofa and ate her apple."
Like the first sentence is descriptive, and gives an amazing image into the readers mind, followed by a "Coraline did this and that" which felt like a letdown. I'm not a literacy genius, because maybe this was intentional or alluding to something, or whatever (I don't think so in depth about this stuff), so maybe it has a deeper meaning that just goes completely over my head.

I felt that since it was more of a MG novel, the characters weren't as complex, fleshed out, or three-dimensional. Being MG isn't an excuse, of course, but I think it is tad more expected (no offense!). Again, I felt I kept being told what type of person Coraline was, and being told that the other mom was horrible, and being told that the old ladies down the hall were old ladies. The protagonists and antagonists just never really connected for me. I did quite enjoy the sinister descriptions of the other mother's appendage at the end of the book ;).. along with the eccentric characters , even the talking cats and mice. I felt they were quite unique and original.

Lastly, the plot was decent. It was Coraline being smart and 'doing the right thing', rescuing the children from the other flat. The idea wasn't completely original, but I thought Gaiman put enough of a twist on it to make it entertaining. I especially liked the things that seemed to "come alive" when she is looking for a way out. The suspense was there, and so was the "semi-adventure" feel of the book (it's not action-action-action, just mystery-action, if you know what I mean).

7.5/10 - Because it was a somewhat fun read with a plot that would be appealing more to a reader seeking a light read, or to a MGer/preteen. There isn't really a "wow" factor for me, but it was still entertaining. My first Neil Gaiman book too!
Also, there's the Tim Burton animated movie, not sure if I will watch it, but if you have seen it, leave a comment and tell me if it's good!


  1. Generally I like first person narrative but I think I can make an exception for this book:) Nice review.

  2. I've not read a Neil Gaiman book yet (thought I feel I ought too pretty darn soon). From what I can tell, this isn't one of his best but I don't really know anything! : )

  3. Jenners- I have to read some more Neil Gaiman books myself, my friend worships his Sandman series :P

  4. I read this a long time ago (and then had no idea it was by Gaiman, or even who he was), and I enjoyed it, I suppose. It was kinda creepy, which was nice. :D

    I liked the move a lot, though. The animation and atmosphere rocked, as did the music. :D Unfortunately, they didn't include much of the closet-kids, if I remember correctly. Hm.

    Anyway, I read it in a quick one-sitting, and I enjoyed it. However, it wasn't "special", IMO. :D

  5. Madeleine- I should try the movie since you say it's really good :) thank you for telling me!


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