The below is my flash review of the classic Neil Gaiman children’s adventure Coraline. I had already seen the film by the time I read the book…but it did not spoil the read.
The premise is simple in Coraline, but simple in a personal and excellent sense. A young girl stumbles through a secret door in her house and finds a better version of her life – along with the people in it – waiting there. The time spent between the real world and the ‘other’ world is even and the pace is spot on.
Short books usually offer little in the way of character development. And even though Coraline slips slightly into this trap, there is enough quirkiness to each character introduced to portray likeable and depth-ridden people. The snappy dialogue helps flesh them out enormously too.
This is where the novel shines (bare-in-mind I read a special edition with lovely artwork in, which probably boosted my score by 0.5). The dark tinge to the narrative is wonderfully Gaiman and Coraline’s curiosity and courage is beautifully offset by the Other Mother’s warped, possessive nature. In fact, most of the style charges through the ‘other’ world – with the real world a vehicle to set up the juxtaposition.
Coraline is a great read for younger and slightly older readers. You can gobble it up in a day and it remains fun and well-written all the way through. Imagination is the winner here, albeit there is a darker tone rippling through some of the narrative. Deeper issues are touched on but not obtusely (such as abduction, loneliness and even murder) and Coraline herself is a child we can all root for.