Coraline by Neil Gaiman was a really fun and quick read. It is a horror story for kids, told through the mind of a child. Coraline and her parents have recently moved into an apartment inside a house that’s been broken up into four dwellings. Inside their apartment is a door to the apartment next door, but it’s been bricked over. However, Coraline opens the door one night and finds stairs leading down into the depths. When she comes out the other side, she finds she’s back in her family’s apartment and her parents are there, but they have black buttons for eyes. It turns out that they are the other parents and they give her everything she’s ever wanted. Eventually, she realizes that all is not as it seems and she must rescue her parents and escape before it’s too late.
In Gaiman’s own words, “It was a story, I learned when people began to read it, that children experienced as an adventure, but which gave adults nightmares.” And I could see how that would be true. I found the book to be creepy, and the movie was definitely scary. But on the other hand, Coraline is an explorer, always seeking adventure, and this is her biggest adventure yet. Children reading this story, would definitely find the excitement in it. I believe kids can handle more than we give them credit for and don’t like being pandered to. I certainly remember rolling my eyes at a few adults. The author did an excellent job of capturing Coraline’s voice. She is smart, compassionate, brave, and thoroughly her own age. What made it excellent for kids and adults alike was that it was more than just a scary story. It came with a message about the value of life and the downside of getting everything we want: “Coraline sighed. ‘You really don’t understand, 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 whatever I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn’t mean anything. What then?'” It’s the moment Coraline realized how good she has it and that her parents always have her best interests at heart.
The first book I read by Gaiman was American Gods. The contrast between the two books was huge. American Gods was complex and massive, while Coraline was simple and never tried to overexplain what was happening. We never really understand who the other mother is or where she came from, but we don’t need to. We just want to escape it’s clutches.
As Gaiman said: “It’s the strangest book I’ve written… and it’s the book I’m most proud of.” And I couldn’t agree with him more. I thought the book was wonderful and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone, young and old alike. 4/5 stars