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on July 10, 2004
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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on May 23, 2004
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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on May 27, 2006
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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on July 12, 2016
I've seen the movie wonderful I've read the book it was brilliant I've played the game and it was OK . Really brings me back to my childhood and when I used to play little games and going to my fantasy world .
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on August 27, 2015
Coraline is a lonely child. With parents who are always too busy to pay any attention to her, in a new home with no friends nearby. Yet with her over active imagination, Coraline explores the new world she is in, with or without her parents’ permission. The house they are now living in is divided into four parts. The actresses on the bottom floor, the crazy old man in the acted, then it is Coraline’s family and the empty flat in the middle. Yet on one rainy day, where Coraline could not go outside and explore, she stayed inside going into the fancy living room. There she found a door. A door that once her mother unblocked it revealed a brick wall that use to go to the empty flat. Soon that door would be the start of Coraline’s grandest adventure.

One faithful night Coraline followed the rats back to the door, which when she opened, was no longer bricked up. On the other side is a mirror image world of her own. Filled with everything she loved and her other Mother and other father who love her and want to spend all their time listing and playing with her. Where the food is good, and there is always things to explore. Yet too good, is also too much, as Coraline loses her parents to this other Mother. Coraline has to invent a game, to not only save her parents and herself, but the other children who did not see through the other Mother’s disguise. Coraline only hope is to outsmart the other Mother, who does not play fair.

Neil Gaiman did an amazing job in this twisted children story. Although it was written for a child, I enjoyed it, even with the simple language used. The pictures drew by Dave McKean were amazing, an excellent surprise for someone who haven’t read a book with pictures in a long time. Coraline hit the big screens as a 2009 children’s animation with Dakota Fanning voicing Coraline. Overall an amazing book, with a very interesting and unique concept.

Check out more of my book reviews at TeenageReads.com
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on June 16, 2009
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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on September 12, 2008
This version of CORALINE is a graphic novel adaptation of the novel penned by Neil Gaiman.

The story follows a common theme in his works of the naive, yet determined, everyman who stumbles into an alternate reality.

The protagonist in this story arises in the form of a young girl named Coraline.

I found the dialogue to be smartly written and the narrative engaging. The artwork, while typical comic fare, set the visual mood quite well.

I greatly enjoyed this story. I found the characters likeable and believable in the context of the story, which in and of itself seemed to me to be an odd metaphor for "growing up."

I cannot recommend this enough to fans of Neil Gaiman's work or to someone looking for something just a little bit different.

Reviewed by: Breia "The Brain" Brickey
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on September 11, 2014
I can't help but find Coraline to be an amazing, frightening, fun story aimed at a young audience but appreciated by all ages. If you've watched the movie you could still enjoy the book. The graphic novel is worth a gander but so too is the original book with the original illustrations which are dark. While I adore every Neil Gaiman book I have had the pleasure to read, this book is perhaps my favourite at the moment, and that says a lot. Read it, it's worth reading!
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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 while some books are drained of their magic and mystery by being turned into graphic novels, "Coraline: The Graphic Novel" doesn't suffer from that problem. It's a haunting little dark fairy tale full of decayed apartments, dancing rats and eerie soulless doppelgangers, and P. Craig Russell graces Gaiman's story with lifelike, eerie illustrations.

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.

Neil Gaiman's writing is some of the most vivid and evocative that you'll find in literature, full of nightmarish details and creepy characters. And 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."

And frankly this graphic novel could have been capital-R RUINED if it had been given "cartoony" artwork, or if it had been sped up or excluded too much of Gaiman's. Fortunately P. Craig Russell doesn't do anything of the sort -- the story unfolds slowly but carefully, and he doesn't cut much out from Gaiman's original novel. And he includes just the right amount of eerie narrative ("her other mother' hand scuttled off Coraline's shoulder like a frightened spider"). Normally it bothers me when a graphic novel describes what is happening in the panels, but somehow it didn't here because of the atmosphere it creates.

And Russell's art is brilliantly suited to Gaiman's works, with a very realistic style, detailed expressions and an eye for the subtle stuff. His "other mother" is especially good -- she has a long pasty face with big teeth, with bony taloned fingers and freaky doll-like posture. She looks like a warped version of Coraline's real mom, just as she should.

And he brings to life the decayed eerieness of the old apartments, the glitzy stage, and the weird singing rats -- as well as the more colorful if mundane world that Coraline belongs to. As Coraline's journey becomes more horrific, he adds more grey tones, shadows and surreal details to the story, such as her creepy final encounter with her disintegrating other father. But there are also some haunting, lovely visuals, such as the full-page image of a rose-lined Victorian house.

"Coraline: The Graphic Novel" brings Neil Gaiman's story to life in beautiful, horrific detail, and even weaves some of his prose into the narrative. Nice work, Misters Gaiman and Russell.
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on April 19, 2004
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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