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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

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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
By 
Matthew King (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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
By 
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
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
By 
Richard J. Arndt (Elko, NV USA) - See all my reviews
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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 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
By 
E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird" (Manhattan, NY) - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Coraline review, April 23 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Coraline (Hardcover)
The book Coraline is an excelent book. The book has a secret world of horror and I thought that was really interesting. The author Neil Gaiman is wonderful at discribing weird things. I also liked the writing styke of this book.
The best part of this book was when Coraline first enters the new but similar world.She finds that everything is the same but different.It's the same as her house but she notices that the picture on the wall with the little boy has a different expression on his face.Then Coraline finds her parents but they aren't really her real parents.They are called her "other parents".They have pale white skin and button eyes.
The author discribes the characters and setting marvelously.He discribes the other mothers skin as white as paper.He also discribes the begining as if you were right there with the characters.She shares the house with three other people.On the first floor lives Miss Focible and Miss Spink.He discribes them as old and round women. On the third floor lives the old crazy man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars underestimate not the intelligence of children, April 9 2004
By 
coraline is indeed a wickedly clever little tale. it's not a lenghty work, suitable for the market it targets. many parents think that coraline is pretty scary for their kids, but i think not excessively so. in fact, it's not a story meant to scare the pants of children, but one that teaches them to face their fears rationally, and even develop a healthy sense of respect for it.
coraline is a girl who just moved in to an old, rambling house that was converted into apartments. bored senseless, she began exploring the surroundings, and was introduced to the various off-beat characters that live there. these things she can handle, but what about the place beyond the locked door in her apartment?
as most of gaiman's work, the world of coraline is both real and surreal. he made it possible for readers to emphatize with coraline, and portrayed the child-parent relationship with finesse and insight. most importantly, he shows adults how perceptive and resourceful children can be, and shows children that parents aren't necessarily indifferent towards their kids.
as an adult, i find the book enchanting and peppered with delicious ironies. this is a work that can be enjoyed on many levels; children will enjoy the tale of how the heroine in the face of adversity, while adults will perhaps find the inner child they lost.
delightful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spooky and engrossing-- will keep you awake!, March 25 2004
By 
Gwen A Orel (Millburn, New Jersey United States) - See all my reviews
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I downloaded this onto my ipod for a long journey (there wasn't a category for that on Amazon, but presumably it's the same basic version as the audiotape, since Gaiman read it...)
I'd only read one other Neil Gaiman book, which i enjoyed enough to check this out. Wow! He's an amazing reader fo his own work... his gentle British accent throws the sheer spookiness of the altered everyday world into high relief. And made some of Coraline's speeches very funny, as when having been saved from an awful fate by the mysterious cat she replies with mere politeness, though out of breath and terribly relieved.
The rats dancing under the bed about how they will be here when you fall ("you" meaning humanity i think) were sung in speeded up, distorted little voices that were... haunting... to say the least! It's rare that after listening to an audiobook i feel like reading the book too but i did.. haven't gotten around to it yet but i will.
Gaiman's knowledge of mythology and monsters is wide-ranging, to say the least... (the other book I read was American Gods) so i don't know if "she," the Other Mother next door, is based on a real malevolent spirit. but it certainly felt as if she did.
This is a great thriller/horror story in which all of the characters and scenes are vivid and clear, not just the baddies but Coraline's family-- her distracted father and ordinary, loving mother-- the neighbors in the apartment building, including an eccentric old man training mice for a circus (who turns out to be a lot less crazy than Coraline thinks), the old ladies who used to be on the stage. And their doubles are hilarious-- at first benignly and then... not.
Coraline's portrayal is marvelous too. She's plucky and bright-- much brighter than one might think-- that is to say, the narrative is matter-of-fact and though it's Coraline's pov, we don't realize just HOW bright she is until she puts her plans into action. Gaiman wastes no time on introspection or revealing her plans ahead of time-- which is a great strategy. Coraline is rather classic "still waters run shrewd."
Original, complete and highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Terrifying and Epic, March 20 2004
By 
Jason Lilly (Nitro, WV United States) - See all my reviews
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Gaiman does it again, reaching now for a different and seemingly lost genre, the dark fairy tale. This book is certainly the most chilling children's book I have ever read. I shivered as Coraline turned each dark corner to uncover another unfortunate misadventure.
Gaiman's love for dark fairy tales that he was told as a child bleeds through in this story. Coraline is a modern day Alice, unlocking a forbidden door rather than falling down a rabbit hole. And her white rabbit is simply her own childish curiosity. The book is also typical horror as Coraline constantly ignores the plea, "Don't go in there."
The defining moment in the book is when Coraline is talking with a black cat, reflecting on an incident in which her and her father stumbled on a swarm of wasps and her father protected her, taking 39 stings of his own, Coraline only suffering one. In the commotion, her father had dropped his glasses. He decided later to return for them. "He said he wasn't scared when he was standing there and there were wasps stinging him and hurting him... Because he knew he had to give me enough time to run. And he said that wasn't brave of him... It wasn't brave because he wasn't scared: it was the only thing he could do. But going back again to get his glasses, when he knew the wasps were there, when he was really scared. That was brave." (58-59)
This memory parallels Coraline's decision to rescue her parents from the terrible "other mother" (whose frightening disposition and macabre intentions send chills up even this adult reader's spine), regardless of her own knowledge of how dangerous a quest it would be.
Though I would not read this book to my 3 year old, it is super scary storytelling for young adults and a dark fantasy to be enjoyed by adults, as well. Gaiman is great!
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Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Library Binding - Aug. 11 2008)
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