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on March 7, 2016
Coraline was surprisingly intense. It starts innocently enough, with a young girl bored of the summer and looking for adventure. She seems a level-headed girl with a healthy imagination - a great combination for parents who are rather caught up in the day-to-day living that adults often get caught up in. And then Coraline finds herself ensnared in the adventure of a lifetime - a spooky one to be sure.

Coraline was the perfect heroine, and all of her reactions and actions were just what you'd expect from a precocious child. It was well established in the beginning that she was used to moving about on her own, with little supervision, so her ability to deal with the pretty scary things that happened to her was believable. That the author pulled character traits and settings from his own life made everything feel that much more real and natural in the storyline. There's no better way to write a "scary" story for young readers than this mixture of intense dread and optimistic hope.
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on January 24, 2018
Let me say first off that I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I loved THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. And I'd heard about CORALINE for years, but hadn't gotten around to reading it. Now that I have, however, I must say I was disappointed. It's not a bad book. It just doesn't meet the standard set by Mr. Gaiman's other books.

Which brings to mind a problem I've been having lately with a lot of the books supposedly adored by critics. These books exhibit flaws critics normally criticize, and yet with books like CORALINE they turn a blind eye.

NOTE: What follows has some spoilers, so if you haven't read it, skip the rest.

Case in point: CORALINE has a double ending. Our heroine escapes from the "other house" and the story's over right? Wrong. She has to go back. Other problems? The setup takes too long and is boring. Coraline and all of the characters are thinly drawn and poorly defined. The only thing that stood out about Coraline was that she was brave. And how do I know that? Because she kept telling me so. Yes, she exhibited some bravery throughout the story, but critics traditionally hate telling and not showing, and there was a lot of telling in CORALINE. Also it is an incredibly violent and disturbing story, especially one designed for children. Sewing buttons over children's eyes? Come on, critics, where's your righteous anger? And why hasn't even one critic criticized the dialog? At best it's stilted and unrealistic. At worst it's just poorly written.

On the plus side--and my reason for giving it three stars and not less--Mr. Gaiman's writing can be beautiful, albeit overly simplistic in the case of CORALINE. Simplistic writing is something critics generally champion in children's literature, and CORALINE certainly doesn't disappoint in this regard, but having spent my career working with children in the middle-grade age range, I've learned they don't like childish writing and prefer not to be spoken down to.

Anyway, there you have it--my opinion, and it's worth every penny you paid for it. And for those who adore CORALINE, my apologies. I wish I had liked it more. But for me, there are much better books out there.
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on May 6, 2016
Coraline is a delightful coming-of-age story with horror elements meant to keep you on your toes. Nothing beats the original novel, however, and my personal opinion is that the movie still beats the graphic novel.

There are only minor differences between this graphic novel and the original novel, with some parts of the story being left out, possibly to make space. The story was quite enjoyable, but a little short and could be read in less than a few minutes - but I think it's best to give your eyes a few moments to take in all the details of the beautiful artwork! Much time and effort seems to have been put into sketches and detail, and it is quite easy to miss even the most obvious details if you attempt to take the book in all at once.

If you're the kind of person that prefers colors to blank pages, then this book is definitely for you!

Pro Tip: try playing the movie soundtrack as you read! It becomes quite endearing. :)
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on January 15, 2015
You know how a book will sometimes scream out to be read for years, and you just never get to it? Even when it is from an author both critically acclaimed, and personally beloved? Coraline was one of those book for me… until now.

It was finally time to delve into the delightfully dark mind of Neil Gaiman once more.

What’d I think?

A chilling tale masquerading as a child’s story, Coraline is one of those books that will be experienced very differently depending on the age of the reader. Noted in the appendix by Gaiman himself, young readers find Coraline’s tale an exciting adventure, yet the parents who read along take away a darker and more disturbing message. The writing is deceptively simple, and I believe this to be one of the defining strengths of Neil Gaiman’s work, he writes economically and with purpose.

Coraline herself is an intelligent child who really just wants her distracted parents to pay her some attention. Recently moved into a large house that had been subdivided into multiple residences, Coraline makes friends fairly easily with the two old ladies downstairs and the old man upstairs, all of them eccentrics of the highest order. She becomes fascinated with a locked door in the drawing room and thus her adventure really begins.

The kindle version of Coraline comes with some great letters and production notes from Gaiman, and within he reveals that this home is actually based on the one he grew up in as a child. Gaiman also reveals that Coraline is the book that took him the longest to write, but it is the one he is most proud of. Interestingly we also get a piece about working with the illustrator which was really neat. The illustrations by Dave McKean are really nice line drawings, that set the tone perfectly in the way Quentin Blake’s work did in Roald Dahl's books.

What’s the verdict?

Coraline cannot come more highly recommended, especially considering it is a book for 6 year olds that managed to hold the attention of an adult all the way through. If you’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book before, why not start here?
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on December 1, 2014
Little Coraline is terribly bored, but that won't stop her from stumbling into adventure--even in the haunts of her very own flat. Neil Gaiman has constructed a wonderful modern-day fairy tale. Who cannot relate to being bored on a rainy day as a child, and wandering around looking for something to do?

As this author likes to do, he paints an intriguing tale using both the strange and the familiar. Perhaps inspired by his own childhood reading the Narnia Chronicles and Alice in Wonderland, Coraline enters a strange world through a doorway to nowhere inside her home. The protagonist lives in an old mansion that was divided up into four flats. As part of the division, a doorway was bricked up but otherwise left intact. Two of the other flats are inhabited by curious adults who have interesting backgrounds and peculiar interests. But no other children. The fourth flat is vacant and this leaves Coraline wondering what it's like over in the vacant flat.

One day, she opens the odd door (that is usually full of bricks) and discovers a passageway to the "Other" world. Here she discovers her "Other" family who purport to be having a much more interesting and exciting life on this side of the flat. Coraline also meets her "other" neighbors who are even more intriguing and crazier versions of themselves than in the real world. However, there is also a hint that something is a little off, despite the seemingly gracious attitude of the inhabitants of the Other world. For one, they have buttons for eyes! Coraline is a clever girl and keeps her guard up refusing an invitation to stay in this Other world, but she's ultimately drawn back when her loved ones are kidnapped and imprisoned there. This story has all the "wonder" of Wonderland. Nothing is as it seems and all is fascinating in its absurdity.

Gaiman invents his own monsters and puts his own spin on this Other world adventure story that is reminiscent of stepping through the looking glass or through the furs in the oversized wardrobe. The tone of the story is what delivers its charm. It's dark and somber. Yet, despite the darkness, the author manages to keep it light enough for its intended younger audience. Like other masters of the genre, he manages to ride that line where the book is enjoyable for both adults as well as children. Gaiman keeps an element of danger and scary things in the Other world without becoming overly graphic. It's just the right touch. Quite a feat. Not too mention, refreshing.

The setting is very small. It takes place almost entirely in Coraline's home (and the "Other" version of it). This is very relatable. Gaiman really manages to capture the child's perspective of Coraline roaming around her home and the grounds outside. Everything feels big and adventurous. It makes me think about being a youngster myself and exploring different rooms in my grandparents' homes during family parties. How big a house can seem when you're so young...there always seemed to be a mysterious room or door that I might not have noticed before.

Even little touches like Coraline's dislike of her father's cooking feels authentic and in character. Coraline has a real voice in her thoughts, actions and words. Her parents too. They're busy, as parents often are, but they still manage to make time for her and convey a sense of love and doting.

Gaiman has a way of using his words sparingly but he still conveys a sense of place. He seems to find just the right touchstones to get his point across. This makes the story easier for younger readers, but also meaningful and solid for older readers. When you read authors like this, you know within the first page the lighthearted depth that is being conveyed. You're immediately swept up by the words and transported into a new world. It's a great feeling.

By touching on some classic tropes i.e. portals to strange worlds hidden from our own world, sassy talking cats, and smooth talking sirens (who are just a little too nice) - we are easily coaxed off the pages and transported beyond. However, Gaiman has his own perspective on this, and his unique twists and particular details take the old familiar and make it new again.

This feels like a short novella. A fast read. It quickly strikes a mood and sets the stage for a dark, adventurous fairy tale. Definitely recommended.

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: "No Deodorant In Outer Space". The podcast is available on iTunes or our website.
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Neil Gaiman does it again. The man can simply not tell a story that is less than good.

Meet Coraline Jones. She's just moved into a new apartment in the country, and her parents are to busy with work to play with her. One day, she goes through a door in her house and finds her Other mother and father on the other side. This other family loves her and makes her life fun, but is it all a trap?

This is simply one of the best 'kids stories for all ages' that I have read. Coraline is a fantastic main character, clever in a believable way and never needlessly whiny. Gaiman injects all the humor and creepiness that he possibly can into the story. All I can say is 'buy it'.
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on May 5, 2014
Neil Gaiman walks the same hollowed ground as Roald Dahl and Clive Barker; creators of lush, detailed modern fables that scare the crap out of children.

Gaiman’s Coraline has gone from cult classic to timeless classic since its release in 2002. We all relate to a kid that doesn’t get enough parental attention, and Coraline’s heroic journey — to rescue her kidnapped parents, free the souls three lost children, and destroy the wicked Other Mother — is as epic as any taken by Hercules, Odysseus, or the Knights of the Round Table.

Coraline shares many themes with these classic tales: it’s about sacrifice and bravery, and being careful what you wish for. Coraline learns that sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until you almost lose it.

“It is astonishing just how much of what we are can be tied to the beds we wake up in in the morning, and it is astonishing how fragile that can be.”

Coraline also learns the importance of working toward your achievements, and the Zen art of The Journey over The Destination.

“ ‘You really don’t understand, do you?’ she said. ‘I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted?’”

Coraline is a beautifully rendered trip into a surreal world that feels a bit like a Tim Burton fever dream, or The Brothers Grimm in a bad mood. But Gaiman’s vision is uniquely his own. The Other Mother is as wicked a witch as any conjured by Disney, Mother Goose, or L. Frank Baum, and Coraline is the kind of hero you never tire of cheering for.
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on March 20, 2017
I loved this story! Many 5-star reviews already say what I think about the author's writing, so there's no use repeating - I'll settle for giving it 5 stars for a clean entertaining fairytale for us older folks who can't abide most modern authors. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Alice in their lifetime.
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on May 29, 2015
I purchased this book in preparation for cosplaying as Coraline (yup, I’m a dork). It’s creepy, beautiful, and haunting—all things I rather enjoy. Since I’ve recently been getting into graphic novels, this one was one of the first graphic novel purchases of my collection.

I’m assuming if you’re getting this book, you’ve also watched the Tim Burton adaption (or maybe read the book?). While it is pretty true to this graphic novel, there are a few variances. I would say that the graphic novel has creeper moments, but Burton captures it all so well. It’s not a typical moral story, but it does have a moral at the end. Coraline seems like a spoiled brat in the movies, whereas the graphic novel she seems more lonely than anything (though still a bit bratty).

The artwork is lovely, the story moves along at a decent pace, and I think this is a wonderful book for anyone who is into this dark, riveting type of story. Coraline starts the book off bratty and unappreciative of what she has around her, and ends the story as a bold, independent heroine who risks everything to save her parents.

Definitely not the type of book for everybody, but definitely a must for Burton, Gaiman, and Gorey fans.
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on September 13, 2016
Coraline is a creepy, brilliant, melancholy book about a girl who recently moved into a partitioned house. She discovers a door that opens on to a brick wall - until it doesn't - and behind the wall is a different version of her life. Through her wit and bravery she navigates this "other" home, defending the life she had found so disappointing just a few days before. This story is a quiet, empowering story for all children who feel curiously removed from their surroundings, and who might have a slightly over-active imagination. I read it as an adult, and enjoyed every page.
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