Coraline | book review


Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Dave McKean
Series: n/a
Publisher: Scholastic Inc
Publication Date: 2002
Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy

Opening Line:

Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.

The Synopsis

Coraline is an explorer. After moving to a new house with her mother and father, Coraline explores her new home . She discovers a secret door that takes her to a world that looks similar to her own, only things seem a lot better there. In this other world, her parents do not neglect her — her other mother wants to play games and her other father does not cook strange meals. Everything is more interesting in this other world, especially the fact that everyone has buttons for eyes. In order for Coraline to stay in this perfect, other world, she must allow buttons to be sewn into her own eyes. When she refuses, the other mother captures Coraline’s real parents. It’s up to Coraline to save her parents and herself, and in the process discovers that nobody actually wants everything they wish for.

The Plot

I saw the film Coraline when it first came out in 2009 and fell in love with it. Tim Burton did a really great job with it, and I never knew that there was a novel. After becoming an English major and reading other works by Neil Gaiman, I’ve finally discovered the novel and have enjoyed reading it. Though it is not my favorite of Gaiman’s works, it’s certainly a masterpiece because, hello, Neil Gaiman is a genius. The story reminded me heavily of Alice in Wonderland, which isn’t really a bad thing, just gave me déjà vu a lot. I still thought the plot was very interesting and unique, though. Unfortunately, since I saw the film before reading the novel, I could only picture Coraline and her world as it is depicted in the film. I couldn’t picture Coraline as a human girl, just a stop-motion clay puppet creation. It was weird.Some parts of the novel are a little slow, but overall it’s an interesting story.

The Characters

The story is told in third-person, focusing on Coraline as the main heroine. Coraline is a very likable character. Readers instantly feel sympathy towards her with her neglecting parents and neighbors who can’t seem to get her name right. Coraline is eleven, but this novel can appeal to a wide variety of ages — that’s one of Gaiman’s great talents. Though Coraline talks and acts like an 11-year-old, she often has thoughts that girls that young wouldn’t have. She has a mature mentality and is a character who learns many lessons and comes of age throughout the novel. My favorite part in the entire novel is probably when she’s trying to get back to the other world to save her parents, but the door won’t open, and she tells the heartwarming story about her father. I loved that story and how it helped her to open the door and to be brave. I’m pretty sure this fictionalized 11-year-old is braver than I am. My mom’s scary enough without button eyes and, you know, the whole being-a-monster thing.

The Writing

As always, Neil Giaman is flawless. His writing is magnificent and his stories are always interesting. Though Coraline wasn’t my favorite of his novels, it was by no means a bad novel. I wish I could have read it before watching the film, but both are great. I would absolutely recommend Coraline, but please make sure to read his other novels afterwards, such as The Graveyard Book, which is my favorite. I’m also probably going to read the graphic novelization of Coraline here soon, so prepare for that.

My Rating

4 star

Favorite Quote(s): Because when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.

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