Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Pages: 168
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing Date: August 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Library

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.
Favorite Quotes
I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn't mean anything? What then?
How do I know you'll keep your word?" asked Coraline.
"I swear it," said the other mother. "I swear it on my own mother's grave."
"Does she have a grave?" asked Coraline.
"Oh yes," said the other mother. "I put her in there myself. And when I found her trying to crawl out, I put her back.
My Review:
Oh Neil Gaiman. How much do I love you? SO much. My new goal for the year is to read every single piece of Neil Gaiman's work I can get my hands on. Coraline has been on my To Be Read pile for years now...ever since I read Stardust. Then it got bumped up when the movie came out and when I read Gaiman's The Graveyard Book for a class last semester. Still I am so mad at myself for putting it off for so long! There's just something about Neil's writing that just....I can't even describe it...he does the best job at transporting you to a different place and time. That's what all books are supposed to do I guess, but he is just so much better at it. You really feel like, just for a moment, you are battling fierce button-eyed creatures, journeying to find a star, or growing up in a graveyard.

It's very rare that a book will actually creep me out so much that I have to leave my door open and the hall light on. I normally need my room to be pitch black and silent just to fall asleep, but when I finished Coraline...I just couldn't help it. It's the subtle unease that Gaiman threaded throughout the novel that really gets to you. It starts from page one and continues all the way until the end so that by the time you close the book you've worked yourself up to a paranoid frenzy.

Though it is a little is middle grade fiction after all...the plot was imaginative, terrifying, a little odd, but definitely adventurous. It moves very quickly and there's just this underlying peculiarity that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. I can't imagine any child, no matter what kind of books they like, not liking Coraline. What child can't identify, at least a little bit, with parents who don't have enough time for them? Poor Coraline, feeling neglected and unwanted ventures through a mysterious door in her drawing room. One that, in the presence of adults opens to nothing more than a brick wall, but when tackled alone, leads to a mysterious world where everything seems to be perfect...but is really twisted and wrong.

She discovers her "other mother" and "other father" who keep trying to get her to stay with them, but she's smart enough to know that something is a little off about them. Suddenly, she's trapped in the "other" world trying to save her parents and the souls of three other children that the other mother has trapped. SO freaky! And I thought that the way the souls were shown, marbles swirling with the color of the child trapped inside, were super cool and definitely something kids would be into! Coraline is such a smart girl and she is very strong because she doesn't let things freak her out easily. I swear, if I came across some of the things she did I would run around screaming and clawing my eyes out...and I'm like double her age.

My favorite character was definitely the black cat. She's so sarcastic and witty. It makes me want to go out and buy my own sassy black cat...unfortunately that would be one of my first steps into the world of "Cat-Lady-dom" that I'm trying to avoid falling into. Still...the cat's such a captain sassy-pants that I want to simultaneously slap her and hug her. Here's my favorite Cat quote...
"We...we could be friends." said Coraline tentatively. "We COULD be rare specimens of an exotic breed of dancing African elephants, but we're not. At least, I'M not.” replied the Cat. 

I give Coraline 4.5 Keys. It was a truly creeptastic and fantastically original book. It's a fairy tale that could live on for ages, maybe even becoming one of the greats like Cinderella or Snow White. I can't accurately describe the awesomeness that is Neil Gaiman's writing style. You really need to read one of his books just to experience it for yourselves. It's abrupt, quirky, and creates a mood to his books that I haven't seen in any other author's. This makes all of his books, not just Coraline, one of a kind reading experiences that no-one should go without.


  1. I need to read Neil Gaiman's books. They too have been on my list for years and I just haven't read them yet.

    Great review, Andra. :D

  2. This is one of my favorite Gaiman tales. Have you seen the film? They did a great job with the source material. Go ahead and get that kitty, you won't regret it, says a certifiable crazy cat lady ;)

  3. Great writer!
    It seems The Rhyme Maidens is finally going to be published but the price is brutal! The Rhyme Maidens by Neil Gaiman to be published

  4. I saw the movie BEFORE I read the book. I loved both. Neil Gaiman is a genius. I loved NEVERWHERE.

  5. I loved the movie, but I have never given the book a shot. I am not sure why. If I actually loved the movie, I would probably be crazy about the book! Thanks for the review. I am going to go put it on hold!

  6. I have never read a book by Neil Gaiman before but this one sounds great! I love stories about alternate worlds and the sarcastic black cat sounds perfect too! Thanks for sharing your comments!

  7. I <3ed your review on Coraline, which is one of my favorite (if not the one) of Gaiman's books. Unlike most people who commented here, I disliked the movie, which, imo, failed to capture the story by Gaiman. I read it when it came out and this year again and still find it awesome! <3 Wanna check the graphic novel as well. And, like u said, read all of Gaiman's books as possible, I've been doing this since last year. Now I have Anasi Boys here to be read.

  8. I am wanting to read this book, but I can't find a copy. I really love this, and it made me love it more because of your review..