Coraline = 72 down, 28 to go

9 Aug

Graphic novel
Coraline
Neil Gaiman
192 pages

I loved the movie Coraline, so when I discovered that it was based on a book, I had cautiously optimistic that I would fall in love with it as well.

It kicked itself off with a great intro quote:

Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.  ~ G.K. Chesterton

The book, as the movie, follows the adventures of the infinitely curious Coraline after she moves into a huge, old house with her parents. The house, which has been converted into apartments, features a number of flamboyantly colorful characters, including Mr. Bobo, proprietor of a mouse circus, and Ms. Spink and Ms. Forcible, retired performers who live with their dogs reminiscing about the old days.

Inquisitive Coraline soon exhausts the places she can explore – she’s trampled through the garden and the woods, explored the abandoned well, counted the numbers of windows and doors and visited all of the animated neighbors. She’s a very practical girl, and I loved this observation from her during a conversation with Ms. Spink and Ms. Forcible:

Coraline wondered why so few of the adults she had met made any sense. She sometimes wondered who they thought they were talking to.

I’m adult, or at least pretending to be one, and I wonder this same thing all the time!

Anyway, after bugging both of her parents and being told by both to find something else to do, she locates a door that leads to a bricked-over wall in the drawing room. One night, she is awakened by a pitter-patter and follows it to the door. Coraline opens the door and is greeted by a darkened tunnel, which of course she steps through.

What greets her on the “other” side is an alternate reality with her Other Mother and Other Father.  The Other Mother cooks delicious food for her, provides toys and adventures for her…everything Coraline wishes her Real Mother would do. But she soon realizes that the Other Mother is determined to trap her in the Other World forever. Coraline’s resolve is tested when she makes a bargain with the Other Mother – that if Coraline locates three marbles that contain the souls of other kidnapped children and her Real Mother and Father that the Other Mother has to let her go and free the others.

The book then follows Coraline befriending a talking black cat and setting out to save the souls and her parents while the world the Other Mother has created dissolves around her. Coraline is, of course, triumphant, but when the Other Mother goes back on their deal, she quickly hatches an escape plan that lands her, the children and her Real Parents back in her Real World.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing was quick, engaging and enchanting. I would easily give this book a 8 on a scale of 1-5. And it is one of the few books where the movie truly brings the words on the page to life.

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