Review: Coraline



Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

Being totally honest, I’ve read this book before. Since it’s been so long I decided to slot it into June’s TBR pile so I could reacquaint myself with the novel form of one of my favorite movies. What I am about to say is one of the most sacrilegious statements in all English majoring and book loving existence. I preferred the movie.

Let me explain myself. While the novel Coraline is a great book, the movie is also a great movie. There are parts I love in both. To me, the movie does a much better job of introducing the characters and this “other world”, showcasing the Other Mother’s seduction in a tangible way. The aesthetics and style is undeniably attractive, making it ideal for rainy days. The novel is much creepier, giving the reader a constant sense of unease as you follow Coraline through her journey. The setting is just as rich, leaving you lost and bewildered along with our protagonist. To me however the characters are not as lifelike on the page as they are within the film. There are many arguments for this; visualization of character’s faces, writing style, whatever you want to cite. My disconnect with the written characters does nothing to devalue Gaiman’s story, which is wonderfully spooky and altogether too real.

For me, the film version of this work has much more success in making the character’s more lifelike and, well, like characters. Their quirks and reactions are much more visible and explored. The way they interact is more pronounced. TO me this is what helps drive the fantastic story so much more, and as someone who loves characterization deeply, I enjoy seeing this. I have been asked before weather or not I find the addition of Wybie positive or negative to the story. In all honesty, I don’t think it matters if he’s there or not. The story continues and endures with him, and does the same without him, and that’s just how I like my male characters and to some extent, my men. Unnecessary, yet useful.

Coraline remains one of my favorite protagonists, mostly because of how much she reminds me of my younger self. I love that she is so brave and tricky throughout her story, finding out how to succeed and seeing everything through until the end, surviving by her own moxy and wit alone. In this regard, the book does much better than the movie, as Coraline never once allows a boy to enter her world and affect how it is told.  So thanks for that, Gaiman.


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