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Monday, September 12, 2005

cover of Coraline

Coraline-- not Caroline, as several of the well-meaning but mistaken adults in the book call her-- is a young girl who loves to explore, and this is both her weakness and her strength. When a strange door in her family's new apartment opens, it is nearly impossible for her to resist going through it-- but when she realizes she is in trouble, she manages to turn her exploration into a strength, and along with some cleverness and bravery, she manages to escape into the real world again. This book bears some resemblance to Alice in Wonderland, but the world that Coraline ventures into is much more sinister and dangerous than we usually imagine Wonderland to be.

One of the things I like about Coraline is that she seems like such a real child. She loves to explore and has quite an imagination, and can say crazy things with a straight face-- and sometimes, because this is a fantasy, they are true, even though the adults may not believe her; for instance, when she calls the police to tell them, "My parents have been stolen away into a world on the other side of the mirror in our hall." The other characters are all quite delightful, too, particularly the strange adults that populate Coraline's world.

Before I read this book, I'd come across little bits of news referring to a possible movie version of Coraline, which I find intriguing. One of the things that is so disturbing about the "other" versions of the people in Coraline's world is their little black button eyes, and the way they gradually grow less and less like themselves as Coraline learns to see through the deception, and Coraline's other mother focuses less and less of her energy on the illusion that was meant to entrap Coraline. This other-mother character is particularly disturbing-- like a spider in a fantastic web, only she seems to feed on the souls of children. It is an interesting moment when Coraline realizes that her other mother does love her, but that it is a greedy, possessive, selfish love, like that of a miser for his gold.

The only other Neil Gaiman book I've read is Neverwhere, and it was fascinating. My verdict: I need to read more books by Neil Gaiman.

Author:Neil Gaiman
Date published:2002
Genre:Young Adult / Fantasy
Number of pages:162
Notes:First section was read aloud with Sapphire and A.


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