Book Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Jennifer Marston January 25, 2014 3

Coraline by Neil GaimanThe movie, Coraline, is one of my favourite films and when I realised it was based on a book by none other than Neil Gaiman, I bought the book for myself to see how it would compare. I’m aware that it’s a children’s book so obviously it wasn’t a challenge for me to read but as a lover of the film it was interesting to see where the idea originated from. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, 11 year-old protagonist, Coraline, and her parents move into a large, old house in the middle of nowhere and she soon feels bored and neglected by her parents. She then discovers a small door in one of the rooms but find it’s locked. Then one night, she wakes up to find the door has been opened and being the adventurer she is, she climbs through to see what awaits on the other side and what she finds is beyond imaginable. She has made her way into a parallel world, where everything is brighter, better and more exciting. Her parents are nicer to her but there’s only one thing; they have buttons for eyes. She calls her the ‘Other Mother’ and soon begins to discover that this parallel world isn’t as perfect as she originally thought and if she doesn’t make it out soon, she could be trapped there forever.

I saw the film first and then read the book, so I couldn’t help but notice that they were slightly different – but it doesn’t really matter anyway because the general idea of the story, the characters and their personalities were all very true to the book. As this book was designed for children, I think the best way for me to review it is to imagine if I would have enjoyed reading it when I was younger or if I had children myself, would I read it to them? The answer is definitely yes. It’s a very unique storyline, no princes or princesses, fluffy animals or romance and I would like my future children to explore a wide variety of genres and storylines and this is just about as wide as it gets. It’s so easy to read and understand (that may just be because I’m 12 years over the age band this book was designed for) and despite it’s nature, the descriptions were actually very good. It’s definitely one that adults can enjoy too I think and I thought the film adaptation was designed for a wider audience of children and adults alike. The jokes are wittier and it is somewhat quite scary in parts! Neil Gaiman definitely let his imagination run wild when writing this book. I love the character of Coraline (played by Dakota Fanning in the film) – she is an explorer and adventurer. She doesn’t want to sit at home, playing with toys or on the computer she wants to go outside and see things, build things and find things. She’s brave, quirky and independent so all in all, a perfect main character for children to aspire to.

Although this book is for children, I actually think it’s rather well developed and mysterious. It has many layers, secrets that unfold throughout which leads you in a direction you never thought it would end up going. It’s definitely unlike any other story I’ve read before and although some parts are quite dark and creepy it’s wonderful for opening up the minds and imaginations of children in the best and worst way possible. I definitely think there is a hidden message in there somewhere to teach pre-teens that things might not always be what they seem.

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  1. ElGuapo January 26, 2014 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    All of Gaiman’s stuff is well developed, regardless of the age it is marketed at.

  2. Patricia Sands January 27, 2014 at 3:25 am - Reply

    Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer and it’s great to see your review here of Coraline. A story for all ages.

  3. Lynn Williams January 27, 2014 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Well, I totally adore Neil Gaiman so I’m always happy when i see somebody else enjoying his books. I also think the film version of this book is amazing – so colourful and actually quite scary in parts!
    Lynn đŸ˜€

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