Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Neil Gaiman for the Younger Set


I decided to read Coraline by Neil Gaiman (162 pgs, Harper Collins) for a couple of reasons. First of all, I have a intense literary crush on Neil Gaiman and I've decided to read everything he's ever written!! And secondly, I choose it as a selection for Joy's Young Adult Challenge.

Young Coraline and her parents moved into a new flat. They have odd neighbors, like Mr. Bobo, who was working on his "mouse" circus and the Misses Spink and Forcible, who were retired stage actresses. But for all the newness in her life Coraline was bored. So she decided to be an explorer. And explore she did. She explored the land around the flat and found the old well that was boarded up because it was dangerous. She explored the flat itself, and found there were 21 windows and 14 doors. All the doors opened except one. Her mother found the old black key and showed Coraline that the door led nowhere. Only to a brick wall....that separated the flat from the one next to it.

One night when Coraline was sleeping, a strange noise woke her. She went out to investigate, being the explorer that she was. She heard noises coming from the door that wouldn't open. But when she tried it, the door was unlocked. And what she found wasn't a brick wall, but a passageway to another flat. One that looked almost identical to her own. But it wasn't quite the same.

The next day, when her mother and father went out, Coraline unlocked the door and followed the passage. What she found was her family!! But it wasn't really her mother and father, though they did resemble them. Although, instead of eyes, they each had buttons. It was the OTHER mother and father. They made her feel very welcomed, showed her a toy box in her "other" bedroom, filled with toys that were alive and unique. The food was fantastic. And they told her how much they loved her and wanted her to stay with them. But on the table were 2 black buttons and some thread. Right then and there, Coraline decided she didn't want to stay at all. Quickly, she took the key and went back to her real flat, locking the door behind her.

But when her real parents failed to return, it was apparent to Coraline that something was very wrong. Something that had to do with the "other" family on the wrong side of the door.

For a book that is geared at the younger set, this one is indeed dark. It's actually kind of scary. I really think kids will enjoy it, especially if they like adventure stories with a villain and a young heroine. Hopefully, it won't be too scary for them. Coraline as a character is fantastic. She's smart, courageous, and extremely honest. I loved her!! The story itself is short and a quick read. And in typical Gaiman fashion, you are really never sure where it's going. All in all, I was extremely pleased with it. If you decide to pick this one up, I hope you will be too!! 4/5

Also reviewed by:

17 comments:

Chris said...

Loved this one! And I love McKean's illustrations as always. Can't wait for the movie!

Melody said...

You have summarized it well, Stephanie! I love, love, love this book!!!

Kim L said...

I've started reading Neil Gaiman recently, his books are so interesting! I haven't read this one yet, but thank you for the review, I will have to add it to the list.

Bookfool said...

This one was a "nyeh" book for me. I'm glad you enjoyed it, though. A happy Stephanie is a great thing.

Carl V. said...

I am soooo psyched about the upcoming film version of this. I saw a clip on Gaiman's site awhile back and the stop motion animation looks incredible. More than any other of Gaiman's works I feel like the filmmakers have a good chance of getting this one right.

And I do really like this book as well. In fact I've liked it better in subsequent readings than I did the first time. I need to pick this one up on audio. I'd love to have both versions, the one that Gaiman reads and the one that Dawn French reads.

Joy said...

I am so not a fantasy reader and I thought this one was okay. :)

Ladytink_534 said...

Have you seen the animated movie sneak peek based on this? It alone has made me want to read the book. Very creepy!

jpderosnay said...

i agree. apart from loving it for myself, i think this is great for kids.

its scary enough to be exciting, but not too scary to be, you know, psychologically damaging or something.

Trish said...

Petunia listened to this one a few weeks ago and really liked it as well. I really need to jump on this "bandwagon" sooner or later. :) Not sure what I've been waiting for!

Framed said...

I read my first Gaiman book last year and think he is great. I bought Coraline bu I'm saving it for the RIP challenge. I hope I can wait that long after reading your review.

Kristina said...

I loved this one as well!! Great review! It was my first Neil Gaiman...I'll have to plan to read more =)

Debi said...

Coraline was the first Gaiman I ever read. Annie bought it a few years back, but then decided she wanted me to read it first to make sure it wouldn't be too scary for her. I found it absolutely delightful! And back then, I'd never heard of Gaiman, and assumed he just wrote kids' books. Just look at the time that assumption cost me!

Andi said...

LOVED this book. I'm sort of on the fence as far as Gaiman goes. I enjoyed American Gods and The Sandman: Dream Hunters but wasn't blown away by them, and Coraline is the only other of his books I've read. I have Neverwhere and Smoke & Mirrors on the TBR. OH, and the first of the Sandman series.

Darla D said...

This was the first book by Gaiman that I ever read (besides The Day I Swapped Dad for Two Goldfish, which is a very fun picture book). I became an instant fan - the atmosphere the book created was electrically creepy, and I love the feeling I get with his books of just not having any idea where the story is going. Very fun!

Nymeth said...

Neil has said in interviews that this is a book that adults find scarier than kids. I can see how that would happen - after all, our imaginations fill in the gaps with the kind of horrors that don't yet cross kids' minds.

I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much! Like Carl, I'm extremely excited about the movie.

Rhinoa said...

I am really looking forward to reading this soon. I seem to be reading loads of Neil Gaiman this year!

Booklogged said...

I really like Coraline, too. Sometimes REAL parents are so bad.