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Coraline (novel)

A 2002 young adult fantasy novel written by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Dave McKean.

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Gaiman's best book to date

  • Jul 21, 2003
Rating:
+5
"Coraline" is one of those rare young adult novels which works well for both children and adults. I read it first to myself and then to my kids, and I was surprised to find that they were as delighted by it as I was, even though they were not as disturbed by some of the imagery of the book that got to me. The Dave McKean illustrations throughout the book serve to enhance the story rather than distracting from it, and as with most Gaiman/McKean collaborations, the pictures are almost ideally suited to the printed words, and vice versa.

The story is simple, and at its basic level, it's one we've heard before. A young girl, bored and trapped inside on a rainy day, explores her house and finds a hidden passage into an alternate version of her house, in which things seem... different. Wrong, somehow. Though at first the differences are vague, they become more and more clear as the story progresses. When the inhabitants of the alternate house, specifically the twisted other-mother, somehow trap Coraline's parents, she finds that she must face the potential danger to get them back. Her companion for much of the resulting adventure is a cat, which can talk when it's of a mind to do so.

Lewis Carroll would be proud... "Coraline" is a book easily in the tradition of his Alice books, with all of the wonder and magic that he somehow captured, coupled with Gaiman's canny observations, witty dialogue, sprinklings of literary reference, and all-around good writing. There's plenty of story here to keep kids enchanted with the story, and plenty of meat for adults to chew on as well. "Coraline" is truly a book for children of all ages.

Perhaps it is only the perspective of an adult which makes some of "Coraline" so disturbing. Specific images from the book (long fingernails clicking against black-button eyes, for example) have stuck with me as both especially memorable and intensely chilling. Gaiman has a talent for such things, and I've come to admire him for it.

It is also Gaiman's best book to date, and this is coming from an avowed fan of Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed "Neverwhere" and adored "American Gods," but "Coraline" is a novel of another caliber entirely. In it, Gaiman walks the fine line between children's fantasy and adult terror, and what emerges is a story which is capable of addressing both, while not diluting the wonder or the horror.

Truly, a great book to be treasured for everyone in the family.

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More Coraline (novel) reviews
review by . June 14, 2010
Dark Fairy Tale for Children Starring Coraline, not Caroline.
Click here to read the book quotes.      Click here to read the Quick Tip.      "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."       --G. K. Chesterton       Coraline is one of the most unique children's books I have read in a long time. It's a quick read but what it lacks in length it makes up with …
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
a totally twisted movie the animation and story were so freaking weird i fell in love with it automatically. i read the book after watching the movie and i liked it just as much.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Click here to read the book review.       Click here to read the book quotes.      A rather quirky and unusual children's book. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland purely because Coraline travels to another "world." It was darker than the children's books I read as a child, but appropriate for a younger audience, especially if they want to read a horror/fantasy genre.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Coraline is really creepy. Sad they made it for children.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
haha i stole this book from my teacher when i was in 5th grade. because i was grounded and figured it would give me something to do. i finished it in less than 3 hours, and immediately made my younger sister read it too. the button eyes, and dark version of reality that coraline goes into every night is just amazing. i think neil gaiman is my favorite visual author because he painted such a good picture in just this book.
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
this book is Weird! but kinda cool, in a creepy way
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
Charming dark children's novel.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
creepy. but good
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
Cute but creepy book.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Very good!
About the reviewer
Rich Stoehr ()
I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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Wiki

Coraline is a fantasy/horror novella by British author Neil Gaiman, published in 2002 by Bloomsbury and Harper Collins. It was awarded the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novella, and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers. It has been compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland because of its surrealism and plot based on an alternate-reality, and has been adapted into a 2009 stop-motion film directed by Henry Selick.
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Details

ISBN-10: 0380977788
ISBN-13: 9780380977789
Author: Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
Genre: Children's Literature, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Light Horror, Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins, Bloomsbury Books
Date Published: 2002
ISBN: 0380977788
Format: Hardcover (first edition)
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