Actually, that should be amended. This is the first Neil Gaiman book I've read. Le gasp! How can that be, you ask? Well, I've listened to some audiobooks, but as far as books, this is the the first. So, without further ado, on to the review!
Autor: Neil Gaiman
Date published: August, 2002
Coraline lives with her preoccupied parents in part of a huge old house--a house so huge that other people live in it, too... round, old former actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible and their aging Highland terriers ("We trod the boards, luvvy") and the mustachioed old man under the roof ("'The reason you cannot see the mouse circus,' said the man upstairs, 'is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed.'") Coraline contents herself for weeks with exploring the vast garden and grounds. But with a little rain she becomes bored--so bored that she begins to count everything blue (153), the windows (21), and the doors (14). And it is the 14th door that--sometimes blocked with a wall of bricks--opens up for Coraline into an entirely alternate universe. Now, if you're thinking fondly of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you're on the wrong track. Neil Gaiman's Coraline is far darker, far stranger, playing on our deepest fears. And, like Roald Dahl's work, it is delicious.
True story, here's what I thought when I finished reading Coraline:
"He is deliciously creepy."
Really, I think our generation is fortunate to have a writer like Neil Gaiman. He's accessible to his fan base and has this fascinating ability to come up with stories like Coraline, or another favorite, The Graveyard Book.
I picked up Coraline after someone recommended it in my review of The Shadows (here), suggesting a similarity between the stories. Both stories have a curious girl as a main character who discovers another world in her house. And in each story, the other world wants to trap the heroine within its boundaries, never to return to their own "normal."
The difference between these two books, however, is Neil Gaiman. I am in awe at how this man takes such a simple concept like buttons for eyes, and weaves it into something disturbing. The eye buttons are a great example. I was perfectly okay with the other mother and other father having black buttons for eyes. Creepy? Sure, but it's not out of the park. But on page 45, Gaiman shows his readers how easy it is to create creep out of something so seemingly innocent:
"If you want to stay," said her other father, "there's only one little thing we'll have to do, so you can stay here for ever and always."
They went into the kitchen. On a china plate on the kitchen table was a spool of black cotton, and a long silver needle, and, beside them, two large black buttons.
"I don't think so," said Coraline.Tell me the thought of sewing black buttons over your eyes doesn't freak you out? There are other examples of brilliant creepiness. Shadow children, fingernails, hands, mist, faces splitting apart, the list goes on.
But... (you knew there was a but, didn't you?)
I'm not quite ready to sit down with my nephews and read this as a bedtime story. It's not scary in a sense of nightmares, but it felt creepy enough that I wonder if my 6 year old nephew would be able to separate the fantastical from realistic. However, don't let my over-protective aunt-isms deter you from reading this book. Coraline is 165 pages of creepy, literary, brilliance.