Let me tell you first that I read this entire book in a British accent, and might I add, it was a delightful experience! I suggest that you try it too.
Coraline is a delightfully creepy (oxymoron?) and surprisingly witty story about a girl who is not particularly fond of her surroundings and the people that inhabit them. Her parents don’t really pay much attention to her. The weather, being the dull and gray English weather is not really conducive to an adolescent’s rich imagination. To add to that, her neighbors are a couple of old ladies and an extraordinarily weird old man who lives in an attic flat and talks to mice. Not rats mind you, mice. There’s a subtle difference that is quite important, as you’ll find when you read this book.
Now she doesn’t hate them or anything, just that she doesn’t find them interesting enough (or as in the case of the weird old man, sane enough) to engage. So, to satisfy her curiosity and urge to discover things, she plays ‘explorer’ and roams around.. well.. exploring stuff.
On one such exploratory trip around her house, she stumbles upon a dark adventure that changes her life for good. For the sake of you, dear reader, I will not go into details of this adventure, or I might end up giving away too many spoilers.
Nevertheless, the book is full of beautiful descriptions and rich analogies that make the read an incredibly vivid and engaging experience. Gaiman says in a section towards the end that he wrote the book really slowly, one word at a time and did not have to edit at all; and it shows. The story flows beautifully and there’s enough to keep you going from one page to the next.
There’s much to be learned from the story and I think it might have many interpretations that could be quite profound. I find it quite hard to believe that it is in fact, a children’s book. The story has a childlike simplicity, but quite like Alice in wonderland, it has more to it than meets the eye. There are many metaphors in there for us to unravel and quite a few messages that are hidden between the lines.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a quick and interesting (not to mention, creepy) tale of courage, wonder and wisdom. If you want to sample this wonderfully witty tale before delving into it (or simply want to relive it), do check out the excerpts from the book.
Rating – 7/10 (too harsh? Maybe)