19 March 2014

Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Caution: Quite a lot of spoilers!

Coraline Jones has just moved in to her new home and sets about exploring every part of it, but there is one very curious part of the house that she can't help but look at; the door in the drawing room. One night, Coraline is woken up by noises coming from the drawing room, and when she opens the door, there are no bricks, just a corridor, identical to the one in her own home. When she goes through it, she discovers a parallel word to her own, with good food, good toys and doting parents, so why does she feel so uncomfortable there? Coraline leaves only to find her real parents stolen, and she knows exactly who did it; her other mother. Coraline will have to use all her wits and all her courage to defeat the monster on the other side of the door, to save herself, her parents and the other children who have fallen into the spider's web.

Reading this book, you can tell that it is clearly for children. The language is fairly simple, easy to understand, full of interesting descriptions and the sentences are short, making it easy for them to read. The actual story is something else entirely. Though short, it has an awful lot packed into it, and much of it is strange and slightly disturbing. Don't let that put you off though, because kids love scary or gruesome stuff.

Neil Gaiman is doing what he does best; delivering us a quirky new fantasy, an Alice in Wonderland for a new generation. The book has already been turned into a film, a creepy one at that, and no doubt a few of his other children's stories will be next, so watch this space. Personally, I'd go with The Graveyard Book, if I were you, film-makers. As for the film, the story and the character of Coraline are depicted wonderfully, and the additional character has actually made the story richer, so well done Henry Selick (the director and screenplay writer).

There is one theme throughout this book that really resonates, and that is the love between parents and children, and the fact that even though you may get on each-other's nerves at times, it shouldn't matter. The way that Coraline is separated from her parents is a very real fear for children, and though Gaiman plays on this fear, as well as the fear of death and of being lost, he also executes an ending that will give hope to children. The ending shows how a child can be in control of a situation, no matter how terrifying, and how through that they can control their fears.

Coraline herself is such a strong, almost fearless protagonist, and she makes a likable and identifiable character for the young readers. She is a great role model for children, as she realises the morals of her own story.

I'm giving this book a 9 out of 10, and only because the short sentences are not my cup of tea, and it wasn't quite detailed enough for me.