13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Nobody can drench a book in creepy, dank atmosphere like Neil Gaiman -- and it doesn't matter if it's a kid's book.
And while some books are drained of their magic and mystery by being turned into graphic novels, "Coraline: The Graphic Novel" doesn't suffer from that problem. It's a haunting little dark fairy tale full of decayed apartments, dancing rats and eerie soulless doppelgangers, and P. Craig Russell graces Gaiman's story with lifelike, eerie illustrations.
Newly moved into an aged apartment, Coraline (not "Caroline" is bored. Her parents are too busy to do anything with her, and her neighbors are either insane or boring.
It's the sort of relentlessly dull world that any little girl would want to escape from -- until Coraline does. She encounters a formerly bricked-up door that leads into an apartment in another world, which looks eerily like her own. In fact, it's so similar that she has a taloned, button-eyed "other mother" and matching "other father," as well as a chorus of singing, dancing rats and magical toys.
At first Coraline is fascinated by the other world, especially since her other parents are very attentive. Then she finds her real parents sealed inside a mirror. With the help of a sarcastic cat, Coraline ventures back into the other world. But with her parents and a trio of dead children held hostage, Coraline's only hope is to gamble with her own freedom -- and she'll be trapped forever if she fails.
Neil Gaiman's writing is some of the most vivid and evocative that you'll find in literature, full of nightmarish details and creepy characters. And he infuses this story with a dark fairy-tale vibe -- decayed apartments, dead children in a mirror, beetles, disembodied hands, monsters that cling to the wall with souls in their grip, and rats that sing about how "we were here before you rose, we will be here when you fall."
And frankly this graphic novel could have been capital-R RUINED if it had been given "cartoony" artwork, or if it had been sped up or excluded too much of Gaiman's. Fortunately P. Craig Russell doesn't do anything of the sort -- the story unfolds slowly but carefully, and he doesn't cut much out from Gaiman's original novel. And he includes just the right amount of eerie narrative ("her other mother' hand scuttled off Coraline's shoulder like a frightened spider"). Normally it bothers me when a graphic novel describes what is happening in the panels, but somehow it didn't here because of the atmosphere it creates.
And Russell's art is brilliantly suited to Gaiman's works, with a very realistic style, detailed expressions and an eye for the subtle stuff. His "other mother" is especially good -- she has a long pasty face with big teeth, with bony taloned fingers and freaky doll-like posture. She looks like a warped version of Coraline's real mom, just as she should.
And he brings to life the decayed eerieness of the old apartments, the glitzy stage, and the weird singing rats -- as well as the more colorful if mundane world that Coraline belongs to. As Coraline's journey becomes more horrific, he adds more grey tones, shadows and surreal details to the story, such as her creepy final encounter with her disintegrating other father. But there are also some haunting, lovely visuals, such as the full-page image of a rose-lined Victorian house.
"Coraline: The Graphic Novel" brings Neil Gaiman's story to life in beautiful, horrific detail, and even weaves some of his prose into the narrative. Nice work, Misters Gaiman and Russell.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2009
This book is a graphic adaptation of Gaiman's original novel. It tells the story of Coraline, a curious young girl who discovers a secret door in her house. The door takes her to what seems like a duplicate of her house, with parents that look like hers but have buttons for eyes. They want to keep Coraline and she has to use her bravery and cleverness if she wants to escape from this other world and return to her own. This was the first graphic novel that I have read and I was very impressed. The artwork was done beautifully and really grasped your attention. My only complaint is that it took me much longer to read the book than I expected because I was so interested in every detail of the artwork. The story was very good, and would appeal to older children who enjoy fantasy and horror stories. Some of the pictures are frightening, so I would not recommend it for young children. I am now very interested in going to see the movie!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2012
This is a graphic novel of an alternate reality and a girl who finds herself having to rescue her parents and her neighbors from the evil that is stalking her. Incredibly creepy, in that Coraline is all alone and must combat the fearsome menace by herself.
Graphics are creepy and disturbing and perfect for the story.
This book may be way too scary, suspenseful, and/or intense for some children. Parents should pre-read.
Maybe also try "The Ghosts" by Antonia Barber or "The Children of Green Knowe" by L. M. Boston -- neither one is as terrifying as Coraline.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2008
My 10 year old daughter is not a big reader and given her age she's in the "between" stage. I read the book first and could not put it down. After I gave it to her, she could not put it down. She likes it so much she shows it to all of her friends. I definitely reccomend this.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Upon moving into her new home, inquisitive young Coraline finds more than just eccentric neighbors and a lot of new places to explore....She finds a mysterious door, with a bricked-up passageway to the empty apartment next door behind it.
But it's only a bricked-up passageway sometimes......
Other times, it leads to a bizarre mirror-image of her new home, complete with "Others".. ...perfect duplicates of her real parents and neighbors....except for the long, sharp fingernails, and the black buttons sewn in place of their eyes......And they don't want Coraline to leave. They want her to stay with them, forever......Forever and ever and ever.
CORALINE is the new graphic novel adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, adapted and illustrated by the legendary P. Craig Russell. Russell has collaborated with Gaiman on four other projects before CORALINE, and his art is a perfect fit for this story. He can do mundane details of everyday life every bit as well as he can portray the more fantastic elements of the often-disturbing tale. The thing that struck me most while reading the book was how much Coraline herself looks like a real little girl. As an avid comic-book fan, I can tell you with some degree of certainty that 99% of comic artists can't draw a realistic-looking child to save their life. They usually look like shrunken adults, or oddly-formed midgets. Coraline not only looks right, but Russel also gives her all the quirks and tics a restless young girl would have in real-life. Just check out page 49, where Coraline is standing on one leg, holding the other leg up behind her....Brilliant little touches like that are everywhere, and the story is much richer for them. Gaiman's story itself is, ostensibly, for children, but it's works equally as well for adults. It's truly a timeless, ageless piece that could be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates a nice, dark bedtime story. Highly recommended, especially for Gaiman fans who may not have dipped their feet into the world of comic-books yet.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
There are comic writers, and good comic writers, and then there are a select few in an elite class who are simply head and shoulders above the rest. They are like LeBron James playing basketball with guys from a YMCA league. One of these is Neil Gaiman, whose beautiful prose never ceases to amaze. Gaiman's 2003 best-selling novel has been adapted into graphic format by artist P. Craig Russell. Harper Collins describes this as a novel for young readers but that sells the book short. This modern fantasy is perfect for all ages...a kind of modern day Alice in Wonderland although much darker in tone.
Coraline (Not Caroline!) has moved into a big house in the country with her parents. The house is shared by elderly, retired actresses Miss Forcible and Miss Spink, who live in the lower flat, and Mr. Bobo, who claims he trains mice, who lives in the upper flat. Coraline is a typical young girl, curious and easily bored. While waiting out a rainy day, she decides to explore the big house and finds a door with a brick wall behind it. He mother explains the house was separated off when it was turned into apartments. But Coraline cannot help but be inquisitive about the mysterious door, especially after it is open when she knows she saw her mother lock it.
One day, with her parents away, Coraline opens the door to find the brick wall gone and another apartment on the other side; an apartment almost like her own and yet subtly different. She steps through to find herself in an alternate world. Here, her parents are attentive to her every need and are not busy with work all the time. But her new mother is not quite like her real mom. Her fingers are longer and bonier, and she has coat buttons where her eyes should be. She wants Coraline to stay with her forever! Coraline retreats back to her apartment only to find her parents missing. Now, she'll have to go back to the other mom and use all of her wits and resources to find her real parents and escape back to her world.
Coraline is a work of dark, and sometimes disturbing beauty. The last third of the book features very intense imagery as Coraline gambles in a game of wits with her otherworldly mother. As Coraline makes progress in their wager, we see the new mom's loving, cheerful guise begin to fade as a darker side manifests itself. Besides her new parents there are twisted versions of the elderly women and Mr. Bobo to contend with although Caroline will find aid from an unexpected source as she uncovers the secrets in the other apartment.
Gaiman crafts a story where a little girl has to find her own identity but also speaks to the idea of family values. We have to sometimes step back from our jobs and everyday stresses to realize what it important to all of us unless we too get caught up in our own dark realities. There is perhaps no better artist suited to tell this story than P. Craig Russell. His fluid, graceful style brings Gaiman's characters to life, often in terrifying fashion. Even with buttons for eyes, Russell captures the malevolence of the new mom.
Harper Collins has been putting out some fantastic graphic novels in the past couple of years and Coraline is the best one yet!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2012
The story was cute, funny and yet so mysterious and spooky. Coraline is a bit annoying in the beginning, but it's totally understandable, I mean, I remember being a pain in the a$$ when I was a kid and didn't have anything to do during my summer vacations, and especially if I didn't have at least a couple of cousins to play with - so yes, it's kind of Coraline's right to harass her parents for something to do.
The alternative reality in this story is quite creepy, the buttons in the eyes freaked me out so much that I don't know how Coraline managed to keep it cool, and I really liked how she beats the villain - clever, clever girl. ;)
The illustrations are really beautiful, and my only wish is that I knew how to draw like that. *dreamy eyes*
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2009
I actually bought this book before the movie came out.When I got the book I did not even know there was a movie being made about Coraline. I have to say though I did not see it,(because I got the jest of it from the book.)
It was a good read. But I hardly think this is a childrens story. It is rather graphic and a bit macabrae. I understand that the movie was a little bit more frightening.But I enjoyed it alot. I actually read it in one sitting. Good book. Thanks.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Neil Gaiman, Coraline: The Graphic Novel (HarperCollins, 2008)
My main reaction to this book was utter confusion. Not because of the book itself, which I quite liked, but it's been a few years since I read Coraline, and Henry Selick's film version is a great deal fresher in my memory than Gaiman's novel. And so I got to the graphic novel, dug into it, and started wondering where all the little touches Selick had added to the film (which I must say I enjoyed just as much as the novel upon which it is based) had gone. Which probably says a lot more about Selick than it does about Gaiman, and a lot more about me than about Selick. Just be aware that Selick did add things to the movie, and those things aren't here (along with, understandably, a good deal of the original novel; this is a 186-page graphic adaptation, it's not going to be complete).
I'm going to make an assumption here I probably shouldn't: that you have either read the original novel or seen the Henry Selick movie based upon it. If you haven't, go do so now. I'll wait.
Okay, while we're waiting for the slowpokes, I do think you'll get more out of this if you've read (preferably) or seen (or both) the fuller version of the story. Not to say this isn't good, but let's face it, this is Neil Gaiman. There can never be too much Neil Gaiman, and given that, a fuller story is better. When you've read it, then, the draw of the graphic novel is Russell's illustrations, and my review is based not on the story itself (one can find out what I think about the story in my April 2004 review of the novel or my June 2009 review of the film, both of which also got four stars), but Russell's work here, which is of course the new bit. (Not to take anything away from Dave McKean, whose illustrations in the original novel were fantastic; McKean is one of my favorite illustrators, viz. my gushing review of Cages.)
Every time I review some version of this, I come back to Gaiman's hypothesis in the novel's afterword that children will see it as an adventure novel, while adults will think of it as a horror story. The film version of it was unambiguous in that regard; it was horror all the way. Russell, I think, took Gaiman's idea more to heart, and while there's no doubt the illustrations in here are creepy, they're not the full-on horror assault Selick went for (and succeeded in achieving). There's more of the feel of the adventure tale in the graphic novel, and that's a good thing; Russell figured out how to correctly strike the balance. There was some streamlining done, of course, and you have to expect that something like this is going to be focusing primarily on the high points, and that's where Russell all the sudden gets interesting. Yes, there's the high-point focus, but instead of the usual "let's strip this down to the moralization", Russell's version of "high points" focuses on some of the murkier moral questions to be found in the tale, and I like that. I like it a great deal. (Though of course the moralization high point must win through at the end, or you'd have a fundamentally different product. But my point is that that's not ALL that's left of Coraline's moral quandary, as might have been the case with a lesser adaptation.) A more slapdash effort would have landed on someone's desk and been sent back with the dictum "more talking cat!" or something silly like that, but the adventure/horror nexus is not the only place Russell achieved balance. Bravo.
This is good stuff indeed. Again, I'd tell you to read the book or see the film first and use this more as a companion piece, but a good one it is. ****
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2010
let me first state that i have not read the book version of this, so i have no means for comparison. i picked this up at the library as my first graphic novel ever, so i also have no sense of expertise on graphic novels or their quality/merit. so, that out of the way, i really enjoyed Coraline, although i think i would have enjoyed it even more if it hadn't been dark outside when i read it. it was just a tad on the creepy side, which was definitely not what i was expecting from my first graphic novel. yeah, i'm a wuss.
the story naturally centers on a little girl named Coraline, whose family has just moved into a large estate that is shared by a couple of elderly ladies and their dogs, and an old man and his mice. they are all quirky and fun and keep Coraline occupied when she isn't off exploring the land surrounding the property, as a latchkey kid of sorts. we jump right into the creepiness when Coraline finds a locked door that occasionally opens to another portion of the house, which brings her into an alternate version of her life, with zombie-like versions of everyone else.
my favorite part of this, being that it was my first graphic novel, was the art. i found myself lingering on the images, studying them, even when there was no text. there was an unbelievable amount of detail to the drawings, at times, that was really impressive. it could just be my lack of familiarity with graphic novels, but there was so much to take in that it was sometimes overwhelming.
the storyline itself was very simple and clearly written, which was pretty impressive considering how few words are really in the book. the characters could have been better developed, but i did appreciate how clever Coraline was when it became apparent that she might be stuck in her alternate life forever. as a pseudo coming-of-age book, and a definite nightmare inducing children's book, this was a good choice and i'm glad i picked it up.
as my first graphic novel, i was very happy. it was simple and beautifully executed and has definitely opened me up to the potential of having the graphic novel make a more regular appearance on my bookshelf. and for that, i'm very thankful!