Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Synopsis of Coraline by Neil Gaiman*: "Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house. . . ." When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous. But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

My two cents 

I decided to read this because: I watched Coraline, the movie. I loved the movie, so of course I had to read the book. {Watch Coraline online here.}

The book in one sentence: Coraline, an unhappy girl with too-busy parents, stumbles onto an alternate reality where things work out the way she wants them to, until she realizes the horrors of things that are indeed too good to be true.

First line: Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.

I liked

The whole concept of the book. This book has been said to be a modern-day take on Alice in Wonderland. The door to the "better" world is to the rabbit hole, separating reality and a fantasy world. And while Coraline isn't the nice innocent Alice, you know that with a name like hers (it's Cora-LINE, not Caroline) that she is a unique character and bound to get into trouble.

There is a fantasy to the story line: be careful what you wish for ... you just might get it! Every child wishes they had nicer parents. And this book indulges that fantasy. Coraline enters an alternate reality where her "other" parents give her the time she craves, the things she wants, the food she loves. Her "Other Mother" is seemingly perfect and it isn't surprising that Coraline returns to this other world to satisfy herself.

But slowly, the fantasy shows itself to be too good to be true. I really enjoyed the creepiness of the book, as it slowly seeps in. If I were younger I would probably be scared to sleep alone immediately following reading this. The "Other Mother" slowly reveals who she really is, and you slowly realize -- with some dread -- that she is the villain of the story. (And sewing buttons on your eyes - is it just me, but isn't this morbid? I would think differently about buttons!) 

Coraline eventually learns that her "Other Mother" will never let her go once she gives in, and she will never see her real parents again. She also discovers that other children are trapped there too. The quest no longer just becomes to save herself, her parents, and life as she knew it, but about these lost souls who are the very picture of what Coraline could become.

Worth mentioning are the fantastic illustrations, which in black and white, lend even more creepiness!

Don't be surprised if your child becomes extra nice to you after reading this book. That's how it will scare him/her into realizing what a perfect mom/dad you really are!

I didn't like

I actually didn't expect to like this book as Neil Gaiman has a penchant for the dark and sinister. And indeed, this book isn't for everyone.

Verdict: Highly readable, fast action, and a mixture of horror and great morals. I wouldn't recommend this for very young kids (say below 10) as it is really scary! Surprisingly though, I found the movie to be less scary than the book.

Book facts: The book has won numerous awards, including 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.

Random Quote: 
She will take your life and all you are and all you care'st for, and she will leave you with nothing but mist and fog. She'll take your joy. And one day you'll awake and your heart and your soul will have gone. A husk you'll be, a wisp you'll be, and a thing no more than a dream on waking, or a memory of something forgotten.

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall