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Coraline - Neil Gaiman

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Genre: Junior Books / Author: Neil Gaiman / Edition: New Ed / Paperback / 192 Pages / Book is published 2003-10-06 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

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      14.10.2011 18:30
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      A true wonder.

      This superb piece of writing by award winning author Neil Gaiman is a tale of a girl called "Coraline". It is not an ordinary story, its' unsettling qualities created by the plot and characters give it a very unique aspect to it, that sets it apart from other books.

      The book begins with Coraline and her parents moving into their new house. Instantly we are told about "the door" that Coraline finds while exploring the large expanse of this alien territory, and like many curious children she wants to know more. But before we are shown what is behind that door, we are introduced to her odd neighbours. "Miss Spink and Miss Forcible lived in the flat below Coraline's on the ground floor. They were both old and round, and they lived in their flat with a number of Highland terriers who had names like Hamish and Andrew and Jock." We are next introduced to another of her neighbours, described as:"a crazy old man with a big moustache." He is training a mouse circus but refuses to let Coraline see it at this stage.

      The story progresses with Coraline discovery 14 doors. 13 of which open and the 14th (that was referred to at the very start of the book as "the door") is locked. In desperation for something interesting to happen she goes in search of the key. When she eventually finds it she opens the door and curiously she finds a brick wall behind it. The next day she meets with her neighbours who casually give her a tea leaves reading where she is told:

      "You are in terrible danger."
      "Don't be so silly April. Stop scaring the poor girl. You're eyes are going pass me the cup!"
      "Oh dear, you're right April, she is in danger."

      Ignoring her neighbour's warning she proceeds to go about her daily business. When her Mother and Father go out, Coraline decides to re-examine the door in her drawing room. To her surprise the bricks have now gone "as if they had never been there." Coraline travels through the passageway into what seems to be the same room that she had just come from. Until she meets a sinister character her "other Mother". Everything in the room is identical to her real house but in this world all of the people have buttons for eyes. This sinister imagery is painted so beautifully by Neil Gaiman and the illustrations depict the un-nerving situation Coraline has got herself in to.

      Coraline finds herself in very scary, yet compelling situations which really draw you in to the story. 185 pages of pure enjoyment for adults and children. However I would not recommend this to children who are easily scared or unsettled because it can be quite scary in places. Although if you like a chill down your spine and being in sheer suspense then you will love this book!

      Who is the "other Mother"? What is this parallel world Coraline has found? Is it safe?
      Read this unique story to find out.

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      28.06.2010 11:04
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      a book for younger children

      I personally got this book as there was huge advertisement about the new film coming out, I was quite surprised to hear that Neil Gaiman was the author and so that interested me even more, as I have already read many of his books. Do I want to watch the film? To be totally honest, I am not entirely sure. I didn't know whether I wanted to watch it or not, to start off with, and when I read the book, I was still unsure, especially since this is a weird book!

      But before I get into all the important bits, let's take time to remember who Neil Gaiman is... I believe he is an inspirational author and can make a story out of nearly anything, which makes him so amazing, I have so far read "The Graveyard Book", "Neverwhere", "Neverwhere: The Graphic Novel", "Smoke and Mirrors" and now "Coraline", you can see reviews on all of those books if you are interested. I think that everyone in their whole life span should dip into one of his works, as they are masterpieces and you will be amazed at them! I know I am.

      So what's the story about? I hear you say, well................. It's about a girl called Coraline, who has just moved house with her family, and she goes exploring. And she comes along to find this hatch like thing that connects one room to another, only when her mom opens it to show her what's inside it's just a brick wall. But Coraline is really interested so she keeps an eye on where her mother hides the key.

      So she returns to this hatch with key in hand, and she opens it up, and there's this black hole in there, so she crawls through and finds herself in the exact same house, in the exact same room...

      She seeks out her mother, but when she looks at her properly, she realises it isn't her mother, as the "other mother" has buttons for eyes, in fact everyone has buttons for eyes in this other world. Now Coraline has to find her family and get back to reality, with only a black cat (who can talk in the other world, but not in reality) by her side, can she actually find her way back?

      I fully enjoyed this, even though it is a children's book, but I think the story is a little over the top and pretty much weird, which kind of spoils the whole effect, however Neil Gaiman's writing style makes the book seem real and fascinatingly good, that no matter how much you hate the concept of the book, you've got no choice but to fall in love with it.

      Children books are forever having hidden meanings and morals to the story, but I can't really work this one out, to be totally honest. But I first thought it was about stranger danger and how people can easily deceive you, which still feels right, however, she befriends a talking cat... Shouldn't that come under stranger danger, this cat could be a stray and vicious cat, and so the whole stranger danger idea gets flung out of the window as soon as she befriends the cat who she knows nothing about. So I'm stuck for a message to this story, maybe it just simply does not have one, and if that's the case, then it is simply an enjoyable read, but I'm still pretty sure children can learn from this book, but what they will learn from it, I do not know.

      This is a children's book, we all know this is true, as it is distinctly found in children sections in book stores or online. However I do have to admit it is a little scary for children, especially since people having buttons for eyes sounds like something that will turn up in one of my nightmares (yes I'm 17 and still get nightmares, but seriously doesn't everyone, once in a while?) And also in the book the mother says that Coraline needs new eyes, and they get a needle and thread and a few buttons, and that just crept me out, so you could see that it is a little scary. But don't worry; Coraline's eyes stay the same!

      I believe this book is in a league of it's own, considering the fact that it enlightens young children to a tiny bit of horror, here and there, but if we compare it to other books in the children's section, I would totally say that it is similar to the Darren Shan books, however these books are teenage fiction, ant Coraline is a young children's fictional book, and so would have to admit, it is a stand-alone book, identifiable from all the other books found in the children's books.

      I think the book was really interesting, and although some bits were a bit boring here and there, I really could read it all over again, so I would re-read it, if I didn't have a mountain of books stacked up in my room that all need to be read. Considering it's a children's book it is easy to get into, but you expect that. The ending is amazing, that what makes it so great; there could possibly be a sequel which would just be amazing I think.

      So who would this appeal to? Hmmmmm................ It could appeal to quite a few of you, but I believe you can make you're own judgements on whether it's for you or not. I don't want to seem like I'm telling parents that they shouldn't give this to children, as that is a little harsh especially since it is easy to find in the children's section. I just want to mealy warn you that this may not be the best book to give to a child, and if your child does end up with this book (maybe it was a Christmas or birthday present) then I fully suggest that you read it first to get a feel of the story line and then you'll be able to make you're own judgement on it.

      There is quite a few bad points about this book, for instance, it could give children nightmares, I know I suffered with them a lot when I was younger and still get the odd one now and again that is a repeat of the really scary ones that I had when I was younger. I also think that the whole concept isn't that good either, I could go on and on but really I'm just picking at the corners here and there, and so I shall stop as I don't want to put people off, as I'm sure you'll love this book as much as I do.

      So have I watched the film? No I have not, I don't know how much you remember, but when I was doing my DVD reviews I frequently reminded everyone that there was a rule in the house that if someone is watching a DVD everyone is obliged to watch it as well, even if there is over 50 guests in the house (and believe me this has happened before), we all have to cram into a pretty big living room and watch the screen for 2-3 hours. But, this film will never happen unless someone buys the DVD for me as a present, as my mom told me I am forbidden to buy that DVD, but I'm sure if she read the book, the very next day, she'll rush off to HMV and buy the DVD herself!

      So that is all, I hope I have interested you, or maybe put you off, either way I'm extremely happy I've helped here and there, and I hope you enjoyed the read, thank you all for reading and rating!

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        22.08.2009 23:51
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        A great book really, i liked it, didnt love it but liked it; give it a try and watch the film.

        Coraline - Neil Gaiman

        I never really got very stuck into this book, but dont get me wrong i did quite enjoy it, and wanted to read on to discover the ending, but I wasn't hooked and wasn't as bothered to finish the book as i am with others. The blurb made it sound like a scary book, but I found it was exaggerated.

        The main character is Coraline a young girl who has just moved house, she is clever, determined, brave and not superstitious in the slightest. The other characters are her mother and father, who are well-meaning but dull, Miss Forcible and Miss Spink, two ancient women who used to be on the stage and who live in a flat in the same house as Coraline. There's a crazy old man upstairs and a cat who lives around the house. Every character except Coraline take on a different form in the other world.

        Coraline is on holidays and she is in a new house its raining and boring so she decides to explore the house then she comes across a door in the drawing room that opens onto a solid brick wall. Coraline is curious and later goes back to find that the wall has gone and that on the other side is a house exactly the same as her own, except her parents there are different and so are their eyes. She doesn't like it and so convinces her "other mother" to let her go back home, the other mother is reluctant but because she loves Coraline, she lets her go. However back in her real house in the real world, Coraline finds that her parents have disappeared. She is sure that her "other mother" has stolen them, so she goes back through the door, Coraline then discovers how evil her "other mother" is. She has no intention of letting Coraline go back this time, and so Coraline must use her wits to find her parents and escape.

        This book is easy to understand and I think girls or boys aged from 10 to 13 would enjoy it, However, it would probably appeal more to people who like unrealistic fantasy and a bit of scaryness, but personally i think the degree of scaryness was overrated. A good story, interesting book; check out the film.

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          21.05.2009 11:58

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          A fantastic kids story that will grip both the child and the adult reading it to them

          As abig fan of Neil Gaiman's adult books, I was recently given this book he has written for kids which has just been turned into a highly critical animation. At just under 200 pages of large text long, with full page pictures, I thought I'd flick through it especially as I have a certain interest in the children's book market.

          The story is that of a young girl (maybe 8 years old) who lives with her parents in an old house converted into 4 flats. Coraline is an adventurer in a childish sort of way, and a sort of free spirit character, who discovers one day that the old oak door in their flat that once led to the empty flat transports her into a magical parallel universe. That world, however, is not all it seems.

          Riddled with crazy imagery and engrossing bizarre scenes, Gaiman had me gripped as an adult and, if I was 20 years younger, would probably have me terrified in a can't put it down sort of way. It is scary but in the way Roald Dahl's Witches are scary and that surely is healthy for kids. What's more important is Gaiman's fluency on the page and the wonderful fairytale world he creates though firmly founded in the present.

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          26.02.2009 21:16
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          darkly fresh and is unpredictable

          I'm not nine years old etc, but I found this slightly chilling... An exciting little read, v. worthy children's story, but also slightly detached (like an action comic).


          So it's not a major classic or anything, - the idea of an imitated world is not obviously original - but it's well-handled, darkly fresh and is not predictable. It's matter-of-fact style shows its thinking for its audience, and I do wonder what it would be like to read it as a kid. At the same time, I hope he will use more of the advantages of the book form in future. The illustrations by Dave Mckean are of course, creepy and masterful in style, and I enjoyed them (with the story) even more in the Varjak Paw books. I've never managed to read too much of Gaiman, because I've found him a bit Clive Barkerish (patchy, good ideas, movie-style endings), and not as insightful as the comic brilliance of Frank Miller or Alan Moore, but perhaps i should try his comics again.


          I'll certainly keep an eye out for his future work on the strength of this, and i've yet to enjoy 'Mirrormask' movie. However, I hope that he refrains from writing too much, and uses his talent to produce a mature classic of imagination and originality, for kids and adults. (true, not easy, so he can write more books like this one if he wants to, also!)

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          04.02.2009 12:56
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          I love, no, I ADORE this book!

          Four words; I love this book.

          For anyone who has ever loved Roald Dahl, and all the spooky and delicious wonders he created, this book is defiantly for you. I was brought for me as a gift purely based on the fact that it was written by Neil Gaiman, and I am embarrassed to admit I hadn't even heard of it, but am certainly glad I gave it a go!

          Though it has been compared to Alice in Wonderland, I would not agree entirely as this story made far more sense, and it is still pretty far out.

          Coraline is an ordinary little girl like any other. She has a mother and a father, and moves house just like other girls do. But this is a house with a difference, and some very dark characters lurking behind certain walls.
          Venturing into the unknown behind a mysterious, Coraline comes into contact with an array of curious characters, all parody's of the people she lives amongst in the real world, ruled by a most original villainess; the button eyed Other Mother.

          This is a difficult story to describe without ruining the idea, but it is most certainly a love it or hate it book. I think probably the best part about this tale is that adults love it as much as kids, as there is a darkness in its pages that we take from childhood into adulthood and keep with us.

          I first came across Neil Gaiman when reading 'The Wolves in the Walls' and I can honestly say this story is in keeping with the ideas I was given when reading said story. Deliciously dark and intriguing, and certainly what most children love; a jolly good scare.

          I will take time now to also throw compliment to Dave McKean's wonderful illustrations. McKean was also a discovery made from Wolves in the Walls, and he is now one of my key influences and certainly one of my very favourite artists, as we see from the cover his digital art is beautiful, and the line drawings inside perfectly compliment the text; angular, dark and somewhat mysterious, particularly the Other Mothers' right hand which was nothing short of terrifying.

          This story is defiantly one for the generation of kids that want something darker; an offering of danger and excitement rather than just the candy coloured world that most Disney films paint. I also think this is a book that adults should read with the consideration that nothing is ever 'just for kids'. Coraline will scare the pants off you, and I promise you'll love every minute of it!

          I await with great anticipation the movie of Coraline, for which I have high hopes for!

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            14.06.2003 05:50
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            ‘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 With this delightful quote, we are ushered into the world of schoolgirl Coraline Jones. The Jones family has just moved into a very big, old house. With the natural curiosity that all young children possess, Coraline goes on an exploration of the house and its grounds. She discovers that her new flat contains fourteen doors, thirteen of which open and close. The fourteenth door is locked. With the turn of a black, rusty key, it opens onto a wall of red bricks. One day, however, Coraline unlocks the door to find a cold, musty passageway. Stepping within, Coraline is taken into another flat closely resembling her own, with identical carpeting, wallpaper and furniture. Only it is different, after all – there is something peculiar about the eyes of the boy in the picture hanging on the wall… At first, this other flat seems to contain all manner of things delightful. There is delicious food, a bedroom painted in the most interesting colour scheme, a toy box filled with wonderful toys – windup angels that flutter around, books with pictures that writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth, little tanks that roll out to greet her. She wanders out of the flat, and encounters the haughty black cat she saw back in her own garden, except it can now talk. She also sees younger versions of her real neighbours, performing a never-ending piece of theatre to an audience of talking dogs. But beneath the excitement of exploring these familiar-yet-alien premises, Coraline feels a sense of uneasiness. Perhaps it has something to do with the black rats residing under her bed. Their red eyes, unpleasant smiles and high, whispery singing. And the hungry expression in the eyes of the crazy old man who keeps them. Even more so, it has to
            do with her other mother and other father, who wish to change Coraline, so that she might stay with them in this other flat and be their little girl. For ever and always. Coraline beats a retreat through the dark passageway into the safety of her real home. But her real parents have mysteriously vanished without a trace. She comes to realise that they have been captured and imprisoned by her other mother – a gruesome entity who has created the world beyond the locked door. And thus, Coraline will have to venture once more into that twisted world of increasingly blurred realities, and use all of her wits and resources to rescue her parents, herself and the lost souls behind the mirror. Neil Gaiman, the award-winning author of the novels “American Gods”, “Neverwhere”, “Stardust” and the “Sandman” series, has produced an original and tantalising fairy tale that unfolds at a snappy pace, never letting up till the last page. Intended for children aged eight years and above, this tale loses none of its charm on a cynical adult like me. It is written in relatively simple, concise language which is, nonetheless, delicately creepy and wondrously evocative. I’ll give you some examples: ‘The other mother’s wet-looking black hair drifted around her head, like the tentacles of a creature in the deep ocean.’ “Stay here with us… your other mother will build whole worlds for you to explore, and tear them down every night when you are done.” “How do I know you’ll keep your word?” asked Coraline. “I swear it,” said the other mother. “I swear it on my own mother’s grave.” “Does she have a grave?” asked Coraline. “Oh yes,” said the other mother. “I put her in there myself. And when I found her trying to crawl out, I put her back.” Another appe
            aling aspect of this tale lies in its fresh ideas. Oh sure, we’ve all experienced the dizzying ‘parallel world’ adventures of “Alice in Wonderland”. But this story is more taut, focused and implicitly horrifying. The stakes are high, the consequences severe, and the adversary most daunting. Everything in this other world is a ghastly parody of the real world Coraline inhabits. The nature of some of the horror, I find, may even be too mature for children to grasp. But certain scenes and developments are definitely capable of sending a tingle down your spine. To the younger ones, presumably, the fright effect will be magnified. This tale delivers no apparent moral. It is not a fable which teaches a certain lesson. Instead, each reader is left to glean individual insight from the many themes deftly woven into the story – that of courage, humility, imagination and acceptance. Gaiman also displays acute intelligence in his depictions of adult-child relationships, and that of a child’s mind and desires. Hence his characterisation is convincingly apt. I genuinely felt for Coraline Jones, who seems to possess a wisdom and courage beyond her years, and yet retains a core of vulnerability. I can empathise with her frustration at being ignored and not really listened to. Her other mother got one thing right – Coraline is a child too clever and too quiet for the dismissive adults to understand. They don’t even notice it when they get her name wrong. “It’s Coraline, not Caroline.” One last thing I have to mention, the copy of “Coraline” I am holding now is a 2002 hardcover edition from HarperCollins Publishers, which is adorned with the most superb illustrations from Dave McKean. A couple of these drawings really spooked me when I flipped over the pages unawares and unprepared. Finally, this book gets a definite recommendation from me to people of all ages. It
            has a refreshing simplicity and yet, depth. With its brooding undercurrent of malignity, it makes for a deliciously creepy read. Well at least it didn’t give me a phobia of buttons. p/s: I simply couldn’t find the link for suggesting a new product, so I’ve placed it under the General category! Hope that’s all right.

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