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Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline (edition 2004)

by Neil Gaiman

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Zeruhur's review
Quanti di voi da bambini hanno avuto paura del buio? Il buio rappresenta l'ignoto: "La più antica e potente emozione umana è la paura e la paura più antica e potente è la paura dell'ignoto" diceva Lovecraft.
Ricordate la sensazione di smarrimento e terrore provata di fronte ad una porta aperta, magari su un corridoio, che dava su una stanza buia?
Non è difficile provare la stessa sensazione leggendo le dense pagine di Coraline.
Viene etichettato come libro per bambini e non difficilmente lo troverete nello scaffale dedicato alla letteratura per l'infanzia, ma a mio modesto parere questo racconto è pienamente fruibile da un adulto che viene prepotentemente trasportato nuovamente nell'infanzia dalla penna di Gaiman.
Avendolo letto di notte non provo vergogna nel riconoscere di aver fatto i salti nel letto all'accenno del più piccolo rumore. Questa è la magia di Coraline: una prosa asciutta ma evocatrice.
La protagonista del racconto attraversa il corridoio buio e si trova catapultata in una grottesca imitazione del mondo reale, dove tutti hanno dei bottoni al posto degli occhi. Non impiega molto a scoprire l'orrenda verità, eppure come altri protagonisti di Gaiman che si trovano intrappolati in altri mondi (mi vengono in mente Helena del sottovalutato film MirrorMask o il sempre valido Richard Mayhew di Nessun Dove) non si lascia sopraffare dalle circostanze, ma anzi vivendo l'impossibile riesce a sopravvivere e a crescere.
Il tutto è accompagnato dalle grottesche e terrificanti illustrazioni di Dave McKean, spesso socio di Gaiman e insostituibile complemento delle sue narrazioni.
Forse la magia di questo scrittore, più di ogni altra cosa è la capacità di evocare e trasportarci nei mondi da lui creati. ( )
  Zeruhur | May 26, 2012 |
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Just the right amount of scary and suspense, mixed with humor. Coraline finds a door in her new house that leads to a second world, with a second set of her neighbors, and her "other" mother and father. It is fun at first until Coraline realizes things are just a little bit off, and her "other" parents don't want her to leave. Coraline is determined, though, to save herself and the other lost souls stuck in this world.

AR level: 5.1 MG
Lexile: 740 ( )
  liblb | Dec 25, 2014 |
I was very excited to read this book, since I have seen the movie. Neil Gaiman has such a knack for slightly disturbing writing. When Coraline finds her way into the otherworld and meets her "other-mother" and "other-father", she finds they are even better than her current parents, though not all things are like they seem! I believe children who enjoy scary stories would really enjoy this.
  InstantLaila | Dec 8, 2014 |
Gaiman, Neil. Illustrated by Dave McKean. Coraline. 2002. 163 pp. $17.89. Harper Collins. 978-0-0662-3744-2 / 0-06-623744-0. Ages 8-12.
When adventurous Coraline ventures through the mysterious door that leads to the flat besides the one she shares with her busy but loving parents, she discovers a world that is oddly like her own flat. There, she has an other mother and other father who are identical to her own, except for their button eyes. When her other mother fails to convince Coraline to stay with her in her world, she kidnaps Coraline’s parents instead. Coraline must find a way to free the souls of her parents and the other children who have been captured by the primal evil lurking just next door. This modern fairy tale by Gaiman features well-developed characters who buck the traditional fairy tale roles. The story is suspenseful and uniquely unsettling, and the descriptions of the unnamed evil manifest in Coraline’s other mother are borderline terrifying. This is sure to be a favorite for fantasy readers and fans of horror alike. Highly recommended. Ages 8-12. ( )
  alovett | Nov 20, 2014 |
When Coraline finds a door and enters through she finds the other side holds everything she has wanted. Parents that notice her, a full to the brim toy box and great tasting food. However, is what you've always wanted what you really wanted in the first place?
  auntiepants88 | Nov 7, 2014 |
On a dreary day during the school holidays, Coraline must entertain herself indoors since both of her parents are busy. Coraline is curious about a door in the drawing room that doesn't seem to go anywhere … except suddenly it does. Coraline finds herself in a place that looks very much like her house with people who look very much like her parents...until they don't. Coraline's courage will be tested as she tries to find a way back to her real home and to a reunion with her parents.

Coraline's problems will resonate with many elementary aged children. She's lonely and bored, her adult neighbors can't get her name right (they insist on calling her Caroline), and her father insists on cooking from recipes that are never to Coraline's liking. Children may fantasize about what life might be like if their parents indulged all their wishes and didn't spoil all their fun. Gaiman's story may help children to see that such dreams might prove to be nightmares. Think Wizard of Oz with a 21st century twist. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Oct 30, 2014 |
Despite my enormous love for Neil Gaiman, I could not finish reading this book.
Maybe one day. Maybe not. ( )
  NatalieAsIs | Oct 23, 2014 |
  mshampson | Oct 15, 2014 |
“Coraline” is one of my favorite chapter books, written by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman. I feel very strongly about this story for two main reasons. First of all, the plot itself is just terrifyingly delightful; the first time I read this story, I had a hard time falling asleep, but I loved how it scared me. Even without it being a movie, I could see this fantasy world so clearly in my head, and the images stuck with me for years and years. Second, I enjoyed the illustrations that began each chapter. Drawn just in black and white, the pictures helped me to see how the author viewed his characters. Several times, they were very symbolic, like the picture of Coraline’s shadow being a menacing rat.
The central message of this story is to truly be careful what you wish for, and to appreciate the family you have. Every family has faults, but you should learn to love the one you have, because the alternative is not always pretty. ( )
  ElizabethHaaser | Sep 29, 2014 |
Excellent! This is a great book, the perfect mix of childlike fun and a dash of spookiness. Very well-written, fast-paced, and fun to read. ( )
  piersanti | Sep 28, 2014 |
I'm sorry, I really wanted to like this but the language used was so simple, the kind you were criticised for using when doing creative writing as a child, that my attention (even after taking breaks) kept wandering and only came back when I heard "Other Mother" or "cat".

Some of this may be down to the narrator who was hit and miss, mostly hit but Dawn French's voice was a little too calm and relaxing that I found I was just listening to her tone of voice instead of concentrating on the actual words. She'd make good money as a hypnotist.

There are definitely some very good ideas and fantastic imagery but I'm beginning to believe all of Gaiman's work should be turned into movies for me to watch instead of reading them because I think I'd enjoy them so much more, just like I did with Stardust. I'll definitely be looking to watch Coraline some time soon. ( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
This is a fairly macabre story, that I expect adults will find as intriguing as young readers. It has everything one might hope for: musical mice, a talking cat and a supernatural mystery with high stakes.

All in all, I liked it. I wish more information was given, but that is limitation of the genre rather than of the story itself. ( )
  raselyem7 | Aug 30, 2014 |
This was a weird little book. I can do weird, being a fantasy fan and all but this one is one that didn't make it in my awesome or wonderful weird. Perhaps it was too juvenile – meant for a much younger audience than me – for me to make it into either of those categories. It is a very quick read however and it’s a fantasy classic. I think they even made a movie based off it. It was one of those books that I’m glad I can check off the list and now know the story that is referenced in many contexts, but I doubt I will ever pick up again or reread. ( )
  Kassilem | Aug 27, 2014 |
An OK book. It wasn't anything too extraordinary. Just a quick, easy book that told, in a way, a modern and somewhat darker version of Alice in Wonderland. ( )
  aryadeschain | Aug 26, 2014 |
When Coraline Jones is home alone one day, she opens a mysterious door in the drawing room. Beyond, she finds a dark corridor that leads her to another house – just like hers, but better. There, she finds another mother and another father. They say they want to take care of her, to make her life interesting. There’s only one catch. They want Coraline to remain with them forever.
Soon, the other mother captures Coraline’s real parents, and she must find a way to free them if she’s ever to return to her ordinary life.

Coraline is the type of book that’s perfect for a rainy day or when you want something subtly spooky. It reads like a modern fable, populated with archetypes that are somehow never flat. Coraline herself is such a refreshing heroine. She’s quiet – so a little ignored – clever, brave, and so intuitive. The other mother is an interesting, frightening antagonist whose obsession with keeping Coraline forever saturates the story with an understated but constant dread. Secondary characters like Miss Spink, Miss Forcible, Mr. Bobo, and the black cat – though somewhat one-note – are colorful, fun and witty respectively, and give the story a well-calibrated sense of whimsy.

The plot, which explores themes of self, bravery, and want versus need, is intriguing, multi-layered, and never condescending. It also contains aspects of ambiguity (the other mother’s origins, for example) that serve to heighten the book’s other elements. Gaiman’s writing is spartan and allows the story to speak for itself, bolstering each episode’s emotion impact.

Dave McKean’s shadowy illustrations increase the creepy-factor exponentially, assisting the reader in conjuring up even scarier mental images.

Many portions of this book may actually be too frightening for the target audience.

Coraline merits instant classic status. Delightfully spooky and entrancing, it’s a contemporary fairytale with an abundance of heart.

Rating: (9.5/10) ( )
  readernoir | Jul 22, 2014 |
It was a quick read. I did see the movie before I read the book, but it was different. It was eerie, but still very well written. I'm a bit hesitant to read Neil Gaiman's adult novels, but only because I didn't find any synopsis i liked on books I've skimmed. Anyway, he's been well received by other people I've talked to. ( )
  aliterarylion | Jul 14, 2014 |
For those whimsical moments in life when I think things could not get more glum I turn to Coraline to realize YES they possibly could. ( )
  revslick | Jul 14, 2014 |
It may be an unfair standard, but I don't think this book added much to the movie. Had I read the book first the converse might have been true.

The book was enjoyable, but I was hoping for more, something like Philip Pullman's Clockwork or I Was a Rat. There was something more mature than those books, not just the terror but the more complex portrait of a child's imperfect relationship with her parents. But still, something about it did not work perfectly as a story for me. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
This book is scary beyond belief and I would definitely not recommend it to younger readers: I had to hide under the covers! I loved Lemony Snicket's advice on the back cover. He basically says, "put this book down and walk away right now!" If you like ghost stories and being pleasurably frightened, then this may be the book for you. If not, leave Coraline and her "other mother," on the shelf! ( )
  aconant | Jun 6, 2014 |
This modern fantasy chapter book has been one of my favorites since the first time I read it. The vivid detail and elaborate plot line throws the reader into a mysterious world of wonder and imagination. The underlying meaning of this story is to never be afraid to discover something new, but to be cautious at the same time. ( )
  arodri13 | May 7, 2014 |
When Coraline explores her new home, she steps through a door and into another house just like her own... except that it's different. It's a marvelous adventure until Coraline discovers that there's also another mother and another father in the house. They want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to keep her forever!

Coraline must use all of her wits and every ounce of courage in order to save herself and return home
  Megan88 | Apr 22, 2014 |
AUTHOR: Gaiman, Neil
TITLE: Coraline & Other Stories
DATE READ: 04/18/14
RATING: 3.5/C+
GENRE/PUB DATE/PUBLISHER/# OF PGS: Short Stories/2002/Bloomsbury Press/277 pgs

COMMENTS: Really not my cuppa and would not have read on my own. This was a "traveling book" so I read it before passing on. This book contains the novella Coraline -- creepy & not something I liked w/ ugly illustrations. Just not something I could glom onto. Oh well, minus me as a fan means nothing since I know Mr. Gaiman has quite a following. The rest of the book is short stories. The only one that stood out for me was the fun one about the hard boiled detective The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds. ( )
  pammykn | Apr 21, 2014 |
I never read this book as a child, but even as an adult I really liked it. I saw the movie a few years ago and the book is definitely better. It is a book about a young girl who opens a door to a different world, and has to try and escape it and save her parents. I would read and recommend this book to 1st and up. ( )
  aloupe | Apr 20, 2014 |
The book Coraline by Neil Gaiman is very intresting and different. The main character is Coraline who is an exploror, and she's very good at finding things. One day she came across a trap door that led to a different world. Coraline is supposably a very unhappy child. Her mother doesn't buy her what she wants and her dad is a terrible cook. They pay little atention to her and aren't very exciting. So she traveled to the world wanting to explor it. There, she met her 'other' mother and father. Who are intresting, cook deliciously, and are much nicer. They spoil her and want her to stay with them forever and all she has to do is let them sew buttons into her eyes, just like them. She refuses and goes back home, and her parents are missing! She goes on an adventrue and a exploration to find her parents and the lost soals of the other children. Her other mother is very tricky but in the end she is very happy with her parents and is appreciative with everything she has. My REVIEW ----
I think this book is very spooky. The pictures especially are creepy and almost give you nightmears. Coraline seems to be afraid of nothing. Which doesn't appeal to me since i am very scared of the slightest things. So i did not relate to her. I really enjoy the plot line and the ideas of the stroy. I really like the way Neil Gaiman writes. In the story I particulary liked the cat. Not only do I love cats but he is a very intresting character that really completes the stroy with his comments and help. The movie I did not particularly like because it was very odd so i was weary about reading the book but I enjoyed it. ( )
  YuliaS.B1 | Apr 14, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Coraline’s family has just moved into a new flat. Her parents are always busy with their own work and Coraline (please don’t call her Caroline) has no friends or siblings to play with. She spends her time exploring her new apartment complex and the surrounding grounds. She’s got some eccentric neighbors: two little old ladies who love to reminisce about their time on the stage and an old man who trains mice to sing and dance.

But what’s really strange is the extra door in Coraline’s flat. It doesn’t go anywhere. Coraline’s mom says it used to connect to the vacant flat next door, but now it’s bricked up. Except that it’s not always bricked up... sometimes it does go somewhere…

Coraline is a terrific little heroine. Curious and brave, but appropriately cautious, she sets out to discover what’s in the vacant flat. And though what’s there seems rather wonderful at first, Coraline soon realizes that it’s actually rather horrible. Not in a bloody gory kind of way, but in a spooky, spine-tingling, why-the-heck-is-this-so-scary kind of way.

Neil Gaiman understands creepy: buttons for eyes, long red tapping fingernails, long dark hallways, talking rats, trapped and soulless children… I’m not sure why, but just the thought of an “other mother” automatically evokes goosebumps — How incredibly disturbing! The eeriness is accented with excellently terrifying drawings by Dave McKean (who did the Sandman covers).

Coraline is excellent fantasy for sensitive but brave children who like to squirm. I read it to my daughters, and I’m sure I squirmed just as much as they did. My girls enjoyed Coraline’s adventure and maybe now they’ll even be a little less put out when Mommy is too busy to play. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Coraline is a short young adult book. It is very good. This Harper edition has illustrations by Dave McKean which are excellent but probably not intuitive for younger readers. They would be more intelligible for adults. In any case, it was good to have the text broken up on the page by something curious and confusing. At 163 pages, I like to vary my reading by length of the book to stretch my attention span or shorten it up. Coraline is terse but descriptive while introducing readers to new vocabulary above their normal level of exposure. Gaiman, by the first page you are captured by its story. It even has a decent, off handish, first line, “Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.” You have a house, Coraline, finding out who ‘they’ are, and a door. It’s all there in the first line. The line will be easy to identify forevermore, like Dante’s “I awoke in the midway point of life to find myself lost in a deep dark wood,” Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,”or Shakepeare’s Richard III, “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York.” Regarding the layout, I like the drop caps initial letter of each chapter followed by the all caps first line. It’s just something I notice and appreciate especially for fairy tales. The book jacket indicates “ages 8 and up” but I would recommend Coraline to anyone. The action takes place somewhere in England, a train’s ride from London, but without specific designation. Although everyone is publishing children’s books nowadays, few know how to write them. They are very difficult to compose as they do not lend themselves to complex sentence structure. The action has to move, but not too quickly. The movie version of Coraline is a masterpiece. The movie captures the spooky and fear inducing parts of family separation more so than the book. The book is still fantastic for the portrayal of Coraline’s interior life. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Mar 25, 2014 |
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