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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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Mayhem...And Little Else

  • Sep 20, 2009
  • by
Coraline sounds like it should be a very good story; after all, I've heard nothing but praise for author Neil Gaiman, and the recent movie has also gathered positive reviews. And the plot itself sounds interesting: Coraline, bored after moving into her new home with parents that ignore her and trying to escape her batty neighbors discovers that one of the doors in her house, which usually opens to a solid brick wall, actually leads to another world. Here, her Other Mother and Other Father give her the attention and love she's been craving...but something's not right. Coraline soon finds that the Others don't want to let her go, and she's not the only one who's in trouble.

First off, the story is short: only 162 pages in hardcover. So it's hard to get worked up about the exciting events of the book when  you know that it's got to end pretty soon. And because it's so short, it feels like there's no time for anything but a very superficial story. A lot could be done to explore and explain the Other world and even the characters, but nothing is. We're introduced to something, then the story moves on. We never find out exactly what the Others are, how the world came to be, or anything else. It simply is.

Coraline is also a pretty boring character. She's an inventive young girl, but nothing particularly stands out about her and if you find yourself rooting for her, it's only because the only other characters of note are evil. Her parents are the typical absent-mindedly-ignoring-their-child type that you can find in half the books with child protagonists out there.

How this book became a bestseller, I don't know unless it was solely because of its author's name power (I have read nothing else by Gaiman, but I have heard nothing but praise for his books so this is entirely possible). When the most interesting thing about a book is the name of its main character, it's probably worth a pass.

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June 14, 2010
Great take on the book. I can see why you thought it was lacking...the intended audience of 8 year olds probably couldn't have handled the details that we adult readers would have enjoyed. I still enjoyed the book, though. Feel free to check out my review if you have time. :) Located here: http://lunch.com/t/1dsg
September 20, 2009
I have to disagree slightly, I found the book to be very good, although some of what you point out is definitely on point.  It should be known though, that it's well... a children's book.  That's probably not much of an excuse, though.  I disagree but love that you're review is detailed and gives us lots of details.  I rather liked it, though.

On the other hand... I did find myself rooting for Coraline, even coming to like her in many ways.
More Coraline (novel) reviews
review by . May 06, 2013
A creepy, fun filled and adventurous novella that will delight and entertain young and old alike.
Coraline tells the fascinating story of young Coraline Jones, a smart, feisty, curious and adventurous young girl who is somewhat neglected by her workaholic yet loving parents, a young-en who craves a measure of parental involvement but who also values her sense of independence. Unfortunately, however, she is more alone rather than independent. It depends on how a reader interprets solitariness. But for Coraline Jones, that is all a-OK, but there is an undercurrent of resentment that she feels …
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 . March 25, 2011
Didn't read the book but loved the movie (I haven't read kids' book sin some time.)
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
About the reviewer

Ranked #552
I'm a student who breathes books. I also have an affinity for anything long and flow-y.      Outside of those, I'm a comics/graphic novel geek and enjoy drawing in various cartoon … more
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About this book


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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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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