Coraline - Neil Gaiman

What would you do if you found a mysterious door in your house that little mice disappear behind? I would personally leave it alone but Coraline Jones wants to explore every nook and cranny of her new home even if that means going into the unknown. On the other side of this door usually stands a brick wall, but one night it leads into a replica of her own home ran by her Other Mother. The Other Mother loves, cares and cherishes Coraline giving her all she could ask for, but not everything is as it seems. Coraline must decide between getting what she wants and what she already has, is it enough for her?

Everyone knows the Coraline story from the film and I never knew it was a book until reading American Gods by Gaiman. It is one of my favourite films and I was in the mood for a quick read so this seemed like the next logical pick from my TBR. I was instantly impressed with the illustrations in my copy (done by Chris Riddell) and they brought the story to life, and yes I am a grown-up who enjoys pictures in books.

The chapters are a little long for my liking when considering the pace of the story is so quick, a lot happens in each chapter that I feel they could have been broken down more to keep the reader engaged a little more. Because the pace was so quick I did feel that things were not explained in much detail, but I suppose this is where the line becomes blurred between children and young adult fiction. This novel is notoriously difficult to categorise in my mind as one or the other. Dark undertones and very creepy monsters (especially the cellar scene!) would make this unsuitable for young audiences but the short sentences and too little detail make it easy for young minds to follow.

As with the film I found the main character, Coraline, to be unlikable. I'm not sure if it just my view of her, but at least in the film she is a very difficult child and lashes out at everyone. In the book she is a little easier to handle and has some form of manners. She also comes into her own toward the end and becomes very headstrong and quick-thinking, although my one true love from this story has to be the Cat. He is a plot device to slightly push forward difficult situations but he is subtly disguised as a well-timed sidekick we all come to love.

I was unsettled by the ending, if this magical being can manipulate time and space enough to build a perfect home for Coraline and enclosures for the ghost children - do we not expect the hand to just crawl up the well wall? No? Just me then. I have little hope in happy endings.

In the end the book didn't live up to my expectations, especially with it being a Gaiman book. American Gods was so dense that I missed out of quite a bit of narrative by just being engrossed enough, but this missed that mark and I felt it was over too quick for the story to fully develop. I think I'll stick with the film, but it was a nice quick read.

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