Coraline by Neil Gaiman


The cat stopped walking, sat down, and began to wash itself thoughtfully, apparently unaware of Coraline's existence.
     "We...we could be friends, you know," said Coraline.
     "We could be rare specimens of an exotic breed of African dancing elephants," said the cat. "But we're not. At least," it added cattily, after darting a brief look at Coraline. "I'm not."
     Coraline sighed.
     "Please. What's your name?" Coraline asked the cat. "Look, I'm Coraline. Okay?"
     The cat yawned slowly, carefully, revealing a mouth and tongue of astounding pinkness. "Cats don't have names," it said.
     "No?" said Coraline.
     "No." said the cat. "Now, you people have names. that's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names."

Ok so don't laugh but I think maybe I have a tiny bit of a crush on Neil Gaiman.

As OCD, vampires, and rants, oh my! very eloquently put it:
"Neil freaking Gaiman, the rockstar of the literary world."

To go from Stardust where he paints a picture so textured and vivid you can actually feel it to Coraline where he reduces life down to the scale that a child would experience it, is truly amazing. The sights, smells, the reasoning he gave to Coraline were so perfectly natural. It's rather amazing when one can take the matter-of-fact and turn it into a matter of fantasy without losing any of the practicality. Coraline is a very simple story without being overly simplified. If that makes sense.

Coraline is a young girl, on holiday from school, who has recently moved into a new house. She is under-stimulated and bored as children often are when faced with added free time and little scheduling. In Coraline's eyes her parents are always working and far too busy to entertain her. Now you mustn't think that this is a story of a poor neglected girl. Keep in mind that she is out of school, during the summer and our story covers what, two, three days maybe? Her perception of "always" is exactly how a bored child would see it.

Coraline is a great explorer and she covers and catalogues her little world (her yard and house) and all the people and things in it. It contains the requisite absurd neighbors as well as her awkward, well meaning parents. It also contains a large door in the drawing room that when opened, at first reveals only the brick wall that divides her apartment from the one next door. But when Coraline looks again it actually opens onto a dark hallway, and a world that is the mirror image of Coraline's. Almost. Inside this other world is her other mother, her other father and her other absurd neighbors. These others want to play with Coraline, are never to busy to entertain her and cook all her favorite foods. Just what a bored little girl who's feeling a little forgotten thinks she would like. Coraline quickly discovers that all is not perfection and in fact the others want to keep Coraline and will go to any lengths to do so. Now she must be a real explorer and discover the secrets that will lead her back to her real life.

It's a very charming little story which proves the old adage that "the grass is not always greener on the other side". I really enjoyed it and continue to be in awe of Gaiman.

I haven't seen the movie version yet but I already wonder if it can live up to what I picture. All I can see is a world created by Tim Burton, who apparently didn't do it. Pooh.

10 thoughts?:

Taschima Cullen June 15, 2009 at 6:52 PM  

Tim Burton is awesome, and I haven't seen the movie either.

you know... You should read Ghostgirl, give it a try, I see it in a Tim Burton sorta way also ^^

lifeafterjane June 15, 2009 at 7:57 PM  

I've been reading alot of reviews on Ghostgirl and have considered reading it. Now I guess I'll have to. You just added another book to my TBR. THANKS A WHOLE HEAP. :)

Shelley/Book Fanatic June 15, 2009 at 10:51 PM  

I just read this not too long ago and really enjoyed it. Although I think if I were a little kid it would have really scared me!!

Ladybug June 16, 2009 at 5:03 AM  

Perhaps I should give Coraline a try although I'm not quite sure that Neil Gaiman's writing is for me. I've read Good Omens(Prachett/Gaiman) and Sandman Vol. 1 and I didn't really enjoy either. I feel like saying this is like swearing, everybody seems to be in love with his writing.

lifeafterjane June 16, 2009 at 6:23 AM  

Ladybug- Read Stardust. Good Omens got me interested in him because any friend of Pratchett is a friend of mine but my crush on Gaiman started when I read Stardust. It's ok to not like him though. Mandi at smexybooks says you don't have to like a book just because everyone else does and what she says matters. :)

Melissa June 16, 2009 at 8:59 PM  

Aw, don't feel bad. There are many of us who have a tiny crush on Gaiman. (I'm slowly working through his novels...) I liked Stardust, too.

Brianne June 18, 2009 at 10:01 PM  

I've seen Stardust the movie, but had no idea it was a book first. The same goes for the movie Coraline. I'll have to read the actual books now. My list of books I want to read is growing out of control. ;-P

lifeafterjane June 19, 2009 at 10:09 PM  

Brianne- I too overfeed my TBR list. And Stardust is coming on this Sunday. I'm finally going to watch it and I'm much too excited about that!

Teddyree August 3, 2009 at 8:57 PM  

I've just started Coraline on audio and then I'm going to see the movie. I adored The Graveyard Book on audio so hope this loves up to my expectations!!

This Miss Loves to Read May 17, 2010 at 6:51 AM  

I also love, love, love Neila Gaiman! Coraline is a great little story, very unique. I recommend "The Graveyard Book" by Gaiman.
The movie was directed by the same guy who directed Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas", so don't worry, "Coraline" is a good movie.

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