Naturally, pilule after reading Starstruck by Neil Gaiman, check I had to read something else by him. His works, check even though they are shorter than what I usually read, are absolutely fantastic and well thought out.

When my sister left Starstruck with me, I decided to check my Sony Reader to see what books I had by Neil Gaiman and found that Coraline was among the six that I owned.

I watched the movie “Coraline” and I thought that it was pretty good. I found it dark, but balanced because of the cartoon design of the characters in the movie. I was very interested to see how the book would actually be compared to the movie but because I watched the movie so long ago, I can’t quite completely remember it. Hopefully we’ll be watching the movie tonight.

A Little Bit About the Book

Author: Neil Gaiman, born November 10, 1960 in England.

Genre: horror, fantasy

Major Themes I Found: Don’t take things for granted, Confronting fear

Published: January 24, 2002

Characters You’ll Meet:

  • Coraline- A very curious girl who likes to explore the areas around her and is easily bored by her surroundings when she gets used to them. She loves her family, but like all families, they have their quirks that drive her a bit crazy. Coraline has recently moved into this house and is home on summer vacation.
  • Mr. & Mr. Jones- Coraline’s parents. They are kind and helpful, but both work from home on computers, so they tend to be very busy during the day and not in the mood for Coraline’s questions. Coraline thinks her mother is dull and she can’t stand her father’s homemade recipes.
  • Cat- He starts off sounding rather snooty to her, but turns into a bit of a guide when they are in the latter part of the story. Cat speaks only in the “other world”.
  • The Other Mother- This woman is clearly a witch. She can only twist and distort what actually is. She is the antagonist in the story and uses the others that she’s “created” for her every whim.
  • The Other Father- Created by the Other Mother, his purpose is to entice Coraline to stay with them. He seems more attentive to Coraline, but he mistakenly tells her that he can’t talk to her alone. He tries to be cheerful around Coraline, but she can see that he is only a submissive pawn of the Other Mother.
  • Miss April Spink & Miss Miriam Forcible (and their “Other World” counterparts): In real life Miss Spink and Miss Forcible are retired actresses. After reading Coraline’s tea leaves they tell her that she is in danger and give her a stone with a hole in hopes that it’ll give her protection. In the “Other World” they are young, pretty performers who do so unceasingly.
  • Mr. Bobo (and his “Other World” counterpart)- You don’t know this man’s name until the end of the book. He is just known as the crazy man upstairs. He is currently “training mice” to perform in a mouse circus. You find his counterpart is a rat trainer and he is actually made of rats.
  • The Three Ghost Children- Previous victims of the Other Mother that Coraline meets while locked in a closet. Coraline takes on the task of setting the souls of these wraiths free.

My Favorite Quotes

1)  “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
Why?This first quote is not technically from the book, but Neil Gaiman put this quote by G.K. Chesterton at the very beginning on the dedication page for a purpose. I feel that this quote, while it was amazing when I first read it, is augmented even more as you read the story.

2)  “Coraline? Oh, there you are. Where on earth were you?” “I was kidnapped by aliens,” said Coraline. “They came down from outer space with ray guns, but I fooled them by wearing a wig and laughing in a foreign accent, and I escaped.
Why? It sounds like a story a child would make up on the spot. Although I think she’s being snooty in the manner she says it. It’s a needed line in the story because it clearly adds to the background of the relationship she has with her parents.

“And he said that wasn’t brave of him, doing that, just standing there and being stung,” said Coraline to the cat. “It wasn’t brave because he wasn’t scared: It was the only thing he could do. But going back again to get his glasses, when he knew the wasps were there, when he was really scared. That was brave.”
Why? Did you just read that? When I read that quote it changed the way I thought about bravery completely. How can you be brave, when it’s something that causes you no fear?

4) The cat wrinkled it’s nose and managed to look unimpressed. “Calling cats,”it confided, “tends to be a rather overrated activity. Might as well call a whirlwind.”
Why? This book is a dark story and while it may not be the scariest thing anyone has ever read, the comical break is always appreciated.

5)  It is astonishing just how much of what we are can be tied to the beds we wake up in in the morning, and it is astonishing how fragile that can be.
Why? It’s a really interesting thought. If you wake up in the “wrong bed” bed or a bed different than you were thinking, you are most certainly going to be “off” for part of the day.

6) There was nothing here that frightened her. These things– even the thing in the cellar– were illusions, things made by the other mother in a ghastly parody of the real people and real things on the other end of the corridor. She couldn’t truly make anything, decided Coraline. She could only twist and copy and distort things that already existed.
Why?After Coraline mentioned to the cat earlier that you can’t have bravery in the absence of fear… she’s thinking through the situations that she’s been through up to this point and realizing just what the other mothers powers allowed. She realized that she couldn’t do anything but create a demented version of the other world that Coraline came from.

7) “You really don’t understand it, do you?” she said. “I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn’t mean anything. What then?”
Why? *MY FAVORITE QUOTE!* Wouldn’t life be boring if we got everything that we ever wanted? Sometimes opposition, no matter how small, is the spice of life. Opposition makes us try harder.

New Words I learned

Wraith– noun ?r?th\n

1. the exact likeness of a living person seen usually just before death as an apparition
2. an insubstantial form or semblance

Why You Should Read It

In this book you’ll read about ghosts, creepy rats, something like spiders, and a witch that will show up when you least expect her. You’ll be chilled by the Other World more than you’ll want to admit.

So many people have compared this book to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because the people that Coraline meets in the Other World are fairly bazaar. Then again, some of the people in the real world are quite bazaar. And while I can see why someone could compare it to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I also see that this book is so much more than a big bunch of “nonsense”.

One of my absolute favorite things about this book is the character development. The characters in Coraline’s normal world and the “Other World” are creepily similar, but also vastly different at the same time. Between worlds Coraline grows. When we first see her in her world, she seems a bit snooty and selfish. As the story progresses she learns to listen to and appreciate others. She realizes what bravery is and pulls up her boot strings so to speak. She still has that bright, energetic, and cunning spirit, but it’s sent into overdrive.

If you like scary or creepy books, this is one to add to your library.

Megan A.K.A. “Booksnob”