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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's magic behind those walls and inside of this book
Coraline Jones is a little girl (precise age unknown) who has recently moved into a big old house with her parents. It is the summer break from school and Coraline is bored. To pass the time she likes to explore the big house and its surroundings. One afternoon, she finds a door that leads into a black corridor. This black corridor in turn leads into a house that is...
Published on July 10 2004 by Matthew King

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! M.B
I recently read Coraline, by award-winning author, Neil Gaiman. Some of his books include American Gods, The Wolves in the Walls, and Endless Nights. Like most of his books, this one is directed to children and young adults. This is a fiction book with many themes; love, hate, curiosity, and many more.
Coraline and her family just moved out of their home and into a...
Published on Jan. 9 2004

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's magic behind those walls and inside of this book, July 10 2004
Matthew King (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
Coraline Jones is a little girl (precise age unknown) who has recently moved into a big old house with her parents. It is the summer break from school and Coraline is bored. To pass the time she likes to explore the big house and its surroundings. One afternoon, she finds a door that leads into a black corridor. This black corridor in turn leads into a house that is practically a mirror image of her own, with the same rooms and the same inhabitants, including her parents. But within these there are fundamental changes; the rooms contain weird variations of her toys, the house and the yard are filled with talking animals and her parents are very different here too. They look like her parents but certainly don't act like her parents. Soon, Coraline and her real parents are trapped into this mirror version of their house and it is up to her to get them out safely...
This is a challenging book to categorize. It is actually marketed as a book for children and adults 8 years and up. The writing is indeed geared towards a younger age bracket, the prose simplistic, the sentences short-clipped. Not only is the novel only 160 pages long, but it's large print as well. I personally breezed through this book in less than 2 hours. However, one has to wonder whether this book might be a little too dark for young kids to enjoy. Gaiman raises some deep chills here and goes for the grotesque on occasion with several scenes involving insects. Usually I find the term "Dark Fantasy" to be a cop-out used by authors who would rather not be referred to as horror writers so as not to be pigeonholed into a genre that has its ups and downs (Dean Koontz anyone?) but with Gaiman the term actually seems to fit like a glove. There's something very magical about his writing that makes us feel a part of the world he is crafting despite the fantastical premise.
I loved how Gaiman used the short length of his story to his advantage. The story wastes little time getting started as Coraline actually stumbles upon the magical door at around page#25. Lots of things happen in the novel especially once the "challenge" is set forth between Coraline and her other evil mother, the pace picks up and the pages become filled with action and adventure. And the ending feels appropriate and satisfying too. The only thing I wish would have been included is some explanation, no matter how small, of how this alternate dimension came to be. But then again part of the appeal of Gaiman's work has always been about the mystique and unexplained weirdness of his tales. "Coraline" is a treasure of a story, wrapped in a small package that won't require more than two hours of a reader's time and yet will leave a lasting impression.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trippy, May 23 2004
Illiterati (Ivins, UT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Coraline (Hardcover)
I only slept two hours the night I read "Coraline." The first few hours I read and finished the book; the next couple hours I couldn't sleep, reveling in the creative world this book took me too that no other book has. There was not a cliche anywhere: not in story, language, mood, characters. Instead we have scuttling hands, fortune-telling mice, button eyes, and worlds disolving into nothingness on the outskirts.
The unflappability of the young girl protagonists threatens to make the book too low key (as some reviewers have accused), but instead, I think it adds to the odd, vague tone. Also accurate in the negative reviews is their observation that there's a lack of background for this world's existence and for the characters in it. I respond, hallelejah. How many thousands of books are ruined by too much exposition. This book gets to the dark, otherworldly story pronto. Its world is assumed to exist and needs no justification.
Stephen King has never creeped me out like this. I'm reading this book to my seven year old daughter (against the advice of my wife) and loaning it to my tough guy, non-reading friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable for children and adults, June 16 2009
Sam (British Columbia) - See all my reviews
Coraline by Neil Gaiman is a short, eerie and enjoyable tale about a girl learning to appreciate her parents through a peculiar experience. The story is interesting enough to keep a person's attention throughout. The story was brilliant and aspects of it reminded me of 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' by Lewis Carroll. The writing is amazing and makes the most ordinary events seem exciting. I believe I would have enjoyed it more if someone didn't ruin the ending for me.

Coraline's family moves into a part house that has a door in it, which when opened, leads to a brick wall. In the other parts of the house lives a crazy old man named Mr. Bobo, and two elderly women that claimed to be actresses, named Miss Spink and Miss Forcible.

One summer night, Coraline awakens to find that the other side of that strange door leads to another world in which lives the other mother, the other father, the other crazy old man, the other Miss Spink, and the other Miss Forcible. These parodies of the people she knows have buttons for eyes, and the other mother does not want Coraline to leave.

Will Coraline ever manage to make it back home to her true parents?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open the Door, and Enter the World of a Child's Worst Nightmare, May 27 2006
This review is from: Coraline (Hardcover)
Young Coraline Jones and her loving yet very preoccupied parents move into an enormous, ancient household. But they do not all of the house; instead, they only own one floor, the middle flat. On the bottom flat leave the two retired old actress ladies who also read tea leaves for fortune-telling, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible. On the top flat, with the attic, lives the resident whom Coraline refers to as "the crazy old man upstairs," who often tells Coraline that he runs an immensely talented circus made entirely of mice.

Coraline loves to explore, and throughout the gardens and courtyards outside, there is much to explore. But one day, when it is pouring rain outside, Coraline asks her mother what she should do. Coraline's mother tells her to ask her father---so Coraline does. Coraline's father tells her that she should count everything blue, all the doors, and all the windows in the house. Later, after Coraline's counting is complete, she realizes there are fourteen doors, yet only thirteen seem to open. Coraline's mother uses the key to open the fourteenth door to show her that it only opens to a solid brick wall.

Or so it seems...

In the middle of the night, Coraline awakens to an eerie sqeaking and then a scraping scuttle sound. She follows the scuttle to the fourteenth door, which now newly opens to a long, dark hallway. Coraline walks through the hallway and discovers that this door opens to a whole new world. In this world, Coraline has an other mother and an other father, who both have big black, shiny buttons for eyes, and also who do not mispronounce Coraline's name as "Caroline." The other world is a complete mirror image of the real flat at home, yet hideously distorted.

Coraline's other mother wants her to stay with her and the other father in this other world, but when Coraline leaves, she discovers, horrified, that her real mother and father have been kidnapped by the other mother, in an attempt to get Coraline back to her. Now, the only way left for Coraline to gain back her real parents is to challenge the other mother to a treasure hunt, and with the help of self-centered talking black cat, Coraline must fight for her very life in the other mother's deadly game.

This novel surprised me. I was never suspecting that a slim novel like this could be such a page-turner, or that it could be so suspenseful, horrifying, eye-widening, and entertaining all at the same time. I would hardly consider this a children's novel, especially because many of the horrific monsters, as well as the bitter cruelty of the other mother and the distorted world she has created, could scare small children. Still, this is an excellent novel that could scare even the bravest of adults, and I am highly anticipating the film adaptation of this novel.

Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wins the Nebula Award!, April 19 2004
Richard J. Arndt (Elko, NV USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Coraline (Hardcover)
This short novel wins almost every major fantasy & science fiction award but once again the ALA committee blows it by handing the Newbury to an inferior novel. [I'm a librarian and can say that with some amount of authority--although maybe not much.] This book is an instant classic but was probably too dark for the at times very timid committee. At least Gaiman's not alone. E. B. White didn't win for Charlotte's Web and S. E. Hinton didn't win for The Outsiders. I suspect for much the same reasons. Regardless this is a beautifully written tale with a fine, tough little kid with dry wit and great courage working her way through events that would panic most adults. If the book reminds you a bit of Alice In Wonderland, good. It should. Both are books that are dark enough to unnerve some adults and good enough to enchant children. I'll be reading this one to my kids, grandkids and whoever will listen until I'm in my dotage. Buy it, you won't regret it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Written for the 8 to 14 age range..., Sept. 10 2010
Ronald W. Maron "pilgrim" (Nova Scotia) - See all my reviews
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While I purchased this book thinking that it would be another one of Gaiman's fantasies that is applicable for all ages, it is not. This is strictly a book that was written for children and, because of this, my review is based on that and not on any adult interpretation of the book.

Neil Gaimon, again using his superb writing skills, has produced a book that easily should appeal to the 8 to 14 age range. The book, itself, is not lengthy and is grammatically written in a manner that is easily understood. While some may view this novel as being a little too dark for children, it is less frightening than some of the other children's classics (The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, Grimm's Fairy Tales, etc...) Coraline, the heroine, is simply overtly faced with the imaginings that most children her age have. Things living under the bed, animals that talk, the door that is always locked and unfullfilled parental attention are a few examples of these imaginings. While I do recommend this reading for the given age range, I would also strongly encourage parents to provide discussion periods with the child to have them more fully understand the message that the book gives and ease any possible fears that were triggered by the novel's imaginary setting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Coraline, Aug. 26 2009
by Neil Gaiman
Harper Trophy, 2002
Children/Young Adult
162 pages
Supernatural Fiction

Buy the 2008 movie tie-in edition

Buy the 2009 graphic novel

Buy the Kindle edition

Neil Gaiman has been named as one of the top ten living post-modern writers (the Dictionary of Literary Biography). A prolific creator of comics, drama, poetry, prose and song lyrics, he's also been called the new face of horror fiction. You can even find him active in other media such as blogging, film, journalism, radio and television.

Coraline has won an incredible roster of awards and is, of course, a New York Times Best-seller. I decided to review Neil Gaiman's horror story for children because it was just released this past Tuesday as a DVD. This was a big deal in our household, as my 12-yr old daughter owns a copy of the book and the movie never came to our small city.

I can see why she was excited. Gaiman's story reads effortlessly. And the scenes are a wonderful collection of darkness and light, of horror and comedy and, always, even in the evil, of love. Through it all we follow Coraline, a bored schoolgirl on holiday and in a new home. The target of a wannabe mother from a sinister, alternate world, she too, is an interesting mixture of characteristics. Short as the book is, we delight in the growing understanding in the girl of what love means and of the sacrifices it sometimes demands.

Coraline is unlike Neil Gaiman's other mind-boggling works. It is a compact, lean and fully comprehensive piece. And I think it showcases just how brilliant this author is.

Note: In my opinion, the movie is a disappointment. Much of the shadowy feel of the written work is gone, surprising since the director is Tim Burton. Additional characters were added and scenes were modified, not for the better. My daughter says the movie was OK, but claims the book was better and commented on the same disappointments as I.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009
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4.0 out of 5 stars Never go through the door, Jan. 10 2009
EA Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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 "Coraline" -- now being released as a movie -- is no exception to Gaiman's track record. It's a haunting little dark fairy tale full of decayed apartments, dancing rats and eerie soulless doppelgangers, as well as a gutsy heroine who finds herself in this ominous "other" world.

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.

Without Neil Gaiman's touch, "Coraline" would just be another story about a kid who learns to appreciate her parents. But 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."

That dark, cobwebby atmosphere clings to the increasingly nightmarish plot, as Coraline navigates a world where the other mother has every advantage. And Gaiman's wordcraft is exquisitely horrible -- the other mother's hands are compared to spiders, her hair to undersea tentacles. And the fate of the other father is a magnificently ghastly thing.

He even infuses poetry into the horror ("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"), and a fair amount of macabre humour ("I swear it on my own mother's grave." "Does she have a grave?" "Oh yes. I put her in there myself. And when I found her trying to crawl out, I put her back").

Coraline herself is a wonderful little heroine -- strong, sensible, self-sufficient but still fairly freaked out about what is happening around her. The sarcastic cat is a wonderful counterpoint. And the other mother is the stuff of nightmares -- she's utterly inhuman and merciless -- who "wants something to love. Something that isn't her. She might want something to eat as well."

Neil Gaiman creates eerie, slightly warped worlds like nobody else, and he does an exquisitely horrible job in "Coraline." Just never go through the door.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Alice in Wonderland's Nightmare Revisted, June 18 2004
This review is from: Coraline (Hardcover)
I'm amazed by all the mixed reviews over Neil Gaiman's young adult novel, "Coraline". When I read this book about a year ago, I wondered how much enjoyment a horror story for children would appeal to someone who was about to turn 23. Now, I crave such stories.
Coraline is perhaps what Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" would have been, had Alice stumbled upon a world of demons and fiends where there's no guaranteed happily ever after for the unfortunate heroines who had stumbled there before.
Coraline, a precocious and intuitive young girl finds a portal into a mirror world of the new house she and her family recently moved into. There, the setting is a treacherous and dark (almost gothic?) world, that is populated by chanting mice, a talking cat, villainous monsters in place of the normal world's inhabitants and other oddities with the density of the cliched haunted house and the theatrics of a brilliant and original horror writer. To replace Lewis Carrol's infamous Jabberwocky, Coraline encounters the Bedlam, an evil spirit posing as Coraline's "other mother", who imprisons the souls of other children.
What makes this story most appealing, to both a young audience and an older one, is Coraline embodies the true spirit of a heroine. She is an ordinary little girl and at the same time extraordinary due to her bravery and determination to save her parents and free the previous victims of the Bedlam. She challenges the creature in her own game and braves through each corridor of alternative universe, with plenty of suspense and action that will have the proudest reader honestly concerned for the narrator.
This book is brilliant, creepy and inspiring. If you're a parent who is trying to convince your child that reading is fun ... this is an excellent book to begin with as it will keep a child in suspense without provoking severe nightmares or including any vulgarities and gore. Though I hate to say this, but after seeing the Harry Potter and Lord of Rings adaptations, I honestly hope that Hollywood will invest in Coraline as their next successful film project.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Down a dark hall, June 10 2004
This review is from: Coraline (Hardcover)
Everyone seems to have a clear idea in their heads about what kids do and do not want and what kids should and should not want. There are experts out there that will quote you statistics and parents who will tell you exactly what their children are NOT allowed to read. I am not an expert in the area of emotional and intellectual growth of children, nor (to come clean) am I a parent. All my expertise regarding kids comes from my own not-so-long-ago experience as one. I remember reading the books that I was told were trash and despicable. Remember the "Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark" series? Loved it. Badly written Apple paperbacks that had titles like, "Ghost Cat"? Loved 'em. And had the book "Coraline" been written in my youth I would have loved it very dearly as well. Far better written than the books I've already mentioned, the tale is almost certain to be banned, denounced, and derided by overprotective critics. And it's well worth the publicity, I assure you.

Part "Alice In Wonderland" with a heaping helpful of Roald Dahl thrown in, the story follows our heroine, Coraline. She's just moved into a big house with her parents. The house is so large, in fact, that Coraline's family only occupies the middle level of the building. A slightly daft old man obsessed with mice lives on the top floor, and two ladies (once women of the stage) occupy the lower level. Coraline likes nothing better than to wander around the grounds of her new home, meeting the local stray cat, and viewing the old abandoned (and boarded up) well. One day she finds the day to be a dank drizzly one. There's nothing much to do inside, but a useless door in the parlor that leads only to a brick wall catches her eye. One day, when her parents are out, Coraline opens the door only to find that instead of a brick wall, there's a long dark hallway. And at the end of the hallways is a house exactly like her own. And there's her father and her mother...but different. For you see, this father and mother have buttons instead of eyes, and can promise to give Coraline everything she's ever wanted. In no time at all, it becomes very clear that Coraline is in direst peril, and that her very soul is being threatened.

This synopsis sort of hints at the dank disgusting things found in the story, but I'm unable to convey them properly. The millions of children that read this will identify with Coraline intrinsically. She's interested in things that are a little different. She wants to be original and apart, but her mother and father are only able to give her the things that all good parents try to give. Love, support, and a sense of stability. The book is especially excellent at drilling a couple moral lessons home (lessons that I suspect some adults should read and make note of). These include: 1. Being brave isn't just doing something courageous. It's doing something courageous when you're afraid and you don't want to do it. 2. Kids want a lot of stuff but not really. What kids really want are boundaries and limits, so that they know that their parents love them. There are other lessons as well, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind.

The best way of recommending the book to you is to show you the quote that begins it. It reads...

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten", - G.K. Chesterton.

Please don't read this tale and assume the proverbial dragons in it are going to be interpreted by children as existing. Instead, understand that books like this prove to kids that their deepest nightmares and fears can be beaten if they just use their heads and act intelligently. "Coraline" is worthy of all praise I can give it. What other book has blurbs on its back from Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, AND Lemony Snicket? Many children out there that are drawn to scary stories and frightening tales will love this story. For everyone else, they can just snuggle up with their "Princess Diaries" and avoid anything complicated or intellectually challenging. And a final word? This book will probably scare the pants off of anyone who reads it. It's just that good.
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Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Paperback - July 5 2004)
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