jess's Reviews > Coraline

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
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Apr 29, 09

bookshelves: 2009, fiction, yaf
Read in April, 2009

I really should have read this book before I watched the movie, but I always do things backwards from what would suit me best. In any case, there's often a line at the library when a movie-based-on-a-book comes out, and so I wait, and wait. And here I am, reading Coraline in April.

In any case, I thought the story was much better than the movie. Coraline is a little girl, newly transplanted to a spooky old house populated by exactly the sort of eccentric neighbors you might dream of - on the lower level, there are two round, retired actresses with their competing egos, stale candy in dishes, and aging dogs, and up in the attic, there is a man from a good circus family training mice to perform elaborate stunts, set to a musical score performed by a mouse orchestra. It's all fantastic, and even more so when Coraline discovers a pathway to another dimension. The other house has an Other Mother and an Other Father and an Other bedroom and Other food, where everything seems to be too good to be true... because, of course, it is.

Coraline is clever, resourceful, and friendly. These features suit her well in the precise way that clever child characters seem to navigate the most treacherous of alternate dimensions. I've often wondered about a child in a similar circumstance who might be slightly less clever, or witty, who would fail the challenges posed to our heroine. The fact is, however, they don't usually write charming children's books about failures, and even less often do they become fascinating animated feature-length films.
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