“Why does she want me?” Coraline asked the cat. “Why does she want me to stay here with her?”

“She wants something to love, I think,” said the cat. “Something that isn’t her. She might want something to eat as well. It’s hard to tell with creatures like that.”

Remember the Grimm fairytales with just as much emphasis on the gruesome as the good, if not more? In this well-done novella Neil Gaiman has brought the genre back (wicked “stepmother” included) with the added modern twist of a happy ending. Coraline herself seems rather young, but I think my library was right to shelve this as young adult, since some elements could be frightening for children.

In Coraline, our heroine’s life is far from interesting. She has already explored the new flat, her parents are too occupied with their work, and the elderly neighbors above and below keep calling her “Caroline.” When she unlocks a closet door, however, she finds an identical world where everything is more interesting. Her other mother and father lavish her with attention, and want her to stay with them forever. But forever is a long time.

In my opinion Coraline is not a book; it is a story, meant to read aloud and shared.  The shorter sentence structure and cadences just seemed to call for it, so that I would find myself mouthing the words as I read. On the other hand, Dave McKean’s illustrations didn’t really do anything for me. It’s like Edward Gorey meets Picasso, two artists I admire but don’t think should be combined. To each his own, though.

I know Neil Gaman has gotten a lot of critical acclaim and I missed the bandwagon, having only read Stardust before this. He definitely deserves the praise. At some point I do want to read Sandman or American Gods, but not until the current TBR pile diminishes.

Published in: on July 13, 2009 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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