Jennifer's Reviews > Coraline

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
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it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, 2019

I keep really wanting to like Neil Gaiman's books, and so I keep reading them, and then I don't like them very much. When will I learn my lesson? My favorite book of his that I have read was The Graveyard Book. But Coraline is much creepier and more disturbing somehow. It is classified as a "dark fantasy", some even label it as "horror", and I already know that is not my thing. But it's also categorized as a children's novella? This would have terrified me as a child! I still find it disturbing! Sewing on button eyes??? Disappearing parents? Other kidnapped kids who have had their souls stolen???

I suppose it's not that much stranger than Alice's Adventures in Wonderland... but still.

I do always enjoy stories that play with the ideas of parallel worlds or alternate realities, so there's that. Plus the other world has toys that fly and a sarcastic talking cat, so that's fun.

Other thought I had: The way the Other Mother is unable to actually create, but can only copy, twist and change things from the real world, reminds me of something the evil witch says in The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis. (Where she is trying to convince the protagonists that the land they speak of with the sun in the sky is only a projection/copy of what they have in the underworld, and their image of Aslan in their minds is something they made up from thinking about a very big cat.) I wonder if that served as inspiration at all for this part.
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Quotes Jennifer Liked

Neil Gaiman
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Neil Gaiman, Coraline


Reading Progress

November 29, 2017 – Shelved
January 15, 2019 – Started Reading
January 30, 2019 –
75.0% "this book is creepy"
January 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 1: by Donna (new)

Donna Farley Oh good, I'm not the only one. I did like the Charles Vess illustrated Stardust, which I read after seeing the movie, which I also liked.


message 2: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen Hayes I looked at your review on your blog, and you asked if anyone liked any of them, but there didn't seem to be anywhere to comment there, so I'll comment here to say I haven't read any of them, but I might try to read Coraline because I like the quote about dragons, having just myself published a book about dragons being beaten.


Jennifer Stephen wrote: "I looked at your review on your blog, and you asked if anyone liked any of them, but there didn't seem to be anywhere to comment there, so I'll comment here to say I haven't read any of them, but I..."

That's odd. I use Disqus for comments and it still shows up when I go to the site on my laptop. Were you on a mobile device? I wonder if it's not showing up on those for some reason. Anyway, I love that quote about dragons being beaten too. And I love that it is a paraphrase of G. K. Chesterton!


Jennifer Donna wrote: "Oh good, I'm not the only one. I did like the Charles Vess illustrated Stardust, which I read after seeing the movie, which I also liked."

I loved Stardust, the movie! Then I read the book and I don't remember being that impressed with it. But I might need to try that one again.


Violinknitter Gaiman knows the Narnia books backwards & forwards, so if it’s not a direct inspiration, it’s still from part of his writerly imagination.


Jennifer Violinknitter wrote: "Gaiman knows the Narnia books backwards & forwards, so if it’s not a direct inspiration, it’s still from part of his writerly imagination."

That's what I was thinking!


Elisabeth I can say, 1) I believe Gaiman is one of the most brilliant writers working today, and at the same time, 2) His stories will not be liked by everyone. You have to be ok with a certain level of disturbance and suspense and just unsettledness to enjoy his work. The exceptions are Stardust, Fortunately, the Milk (hilarious!) and his recent Norse Mythology, which are fine for younger readers. Coraline scared the bejeebers out of me. Don't read Ocean at the End of the Lane if you didn't like Coraline.


Jean Smith Elisabeth says it perfectly.


Jennifer Jean wrote: "Elisabeth says it perfectly."

I agree with Elisabeth also. I think Gaiman is brilliant, but I do not enjoy the disturbance/unsettledness factor.


message 10: by Emily (new)

Emily Meixner I love, love, love The Ocean at the End of the Lane. But yes, it and Coraline are intense and disturbing! But so beautiful. I think Neil Gaiman captures perfectly the joys and terrors of childhood, a rare gift.


Jennifer Emily wrote: "I love, love, love The Ocean at the End of the Lane. But yes, it and Coraline are intense and disturbing! But so beautiful. I think Neil Gaiman captures perfectly the joys and terrors of childhood,..."

I might eventually give The Ocean at the End of the Lane another try, but probably not anytime soon.


message 12: by Jean (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jean Smith You know, another friend surprised me when they described Ocean as too dark after I’d recommended it, because I couldn’t see that in it and I wouldn’t have recommended it if I’d thought of it that way. But it goes to show that we are all different! 💖 I loved it (yay Emily, two of us) and I was struck by what a True Fairytale (a la Tolkien and Lewis) it is. It also struck me as a Christian story, if perhaps unintentionally.

I’m listening to the delightful full cast recording of The Graveyard Book now, and I think I’ll have to add Coraline soon too!


Elisabeth and while we're talking Gaiman and Christianity, another not-too-disturbing Bill is Good Omens, which he wrote with Terry Pratchett. Wonderful as long as you don't mind poking fun at your own religion. Very funny stuff!


Elisabeth oops *book* not Bill, obviously. I'm on mobile and can't correct.


Jennifer I do plan to read Good Omens at some point.


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