Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Coraline by Neil Gaiman [2002]

Okay, so I'm not going in order with this reading list. I started LotR, but my copy has all three books in one, and as a result it's really heavy and hard to carry around so I decided to keep that one on the backburner. ... not like you were lying awake at night wondering what I'm reading, but I'm the president of this blog, so I call the shots. :P
So! Coraline then, yeah?
Well, despite the fact that I shrieked when I encountered my first Creeper in Minecraft, and cower behind pillows when my Dad and I watch The X Files, I wasn't actually that scared by this book. Creeped out and perhaps a little disturbed, but not terrified out of my wits. But before I start the review I should warn that this book is full of nightmare fuel. Chock full of it. I mean, just look at that cover. Yeeeks.
This book is about a girl (presumably somewhere between the ages of 10-12) who moves into a duplex. In an empty storage room she finds a mysterious door that leads to her 'other' house. It's where her Other Mother lives, with Other Father, and they've apparently been waiting for Coraline's arrival so that she can live with them and be their little girl. Of course, it doesn't take long for Coraline to realize that something is horribly, horribly amiss, yadayada.
I already reviewed the movie, and I just now got around to reading the book again. I had forgotten some of the things that happen, which is always nice when you're re-reading a book. Neil Gaiman's writing is nice and descriptive (though maybe a little too hung up on food. Seriously. Every meal gets described in great detail.) and paints a really good mental picture. Which is mostly a good thing, until you reach the part where Coraline gets sent into the cellar.
Allright, the last bit about the cellar makes things sound a little clichéd, but Coraline is actually one of the most original books I've ever read. As a writer I find it simultaneously inspiring and... not inspiring. Inspiring because it's possible to still write something with much originality. Not inspiring because well in all honesty, I don't think I'll ever write like Neil Gaiman. Saaaad...
Unlike the snotty reviewers on Amazon, I thought that this book did have something of a moral message. In the beginning of the story, Coraline was kind of a brat. Not going to lie. She was interesting, but she wasn't endearing. As the story goes on though, she learns to appreciate what she formerly thought was boring and normal. I thought it was a good message. I mean, sure. It's not Aesop, but why you would go hunting for morals in a horror novel is a mystery to me.

The Verdict: A-
I always have a hard time reviewing books that I really, really like, because I just kind of mindlessly ramble and never reach a point. In short, I like this book because it's quirky, scary, and an all-around enthralling book. It's also short, and you can read it in less than a day. ;)
I for one really like this book, but there are some distressing thematic elements that warrant discretion. If I had a kid, I would definitely screen this book before them and decide whether or not s/he could handle it.

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