Sunday, 13 November 2005

Book Review: Coraline (Neil Gaiman)

Back in July, I went down to Singapore to interview a certain author called Neil Gaiman, and eventually, got a book signed. That book was his first ever children's novel, Coraline.

I only got to reading Coraline this week, and despite trying to keep my autographed copy as pristine as possible, I still managed to accidently dog-ear the front cover. GAAAH!

Anyway, I only finished it last night, so here is the review of the book, for this edition of my Hopefully-Weekly Book Review!


Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Children/Fantasy/Horror

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wits and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

What I Liked:
  • Suitably weird
  • Short and sweet
  • Very imaginative
  • It's certainly very DIFFERENT from usual children's books
  • Dave McKean's illustrations are SPOOKY

What I Didn't Like:

  • A bit TOO short for me (but then again, it IS a children's book after all)
  • Kids MIGHT find it a bit scary

What I think:

While reading this book, something Gaiman said during the press conference in Singapore came to mind (these are not his EXACT words though, mind)

"My agent asked me whether I was seriosu about marketing Coraline as a Children's Book, because it is so scary. I told her to read it to her kids, and the next day, she said they LOVED it. I think kids would love the book more because they have no repressed memories of childhood."

I kinda agree with that. And that is why I tend to be a bit disdainful about what parents think they SHOULD or SHOULD NOT read to their kids.

Coraline is scary, no doubt about that, but it's not half as scary as an evil wizard killing schoolchidren with magic, or animals being frozen into stone.

But it is also a highly imaginative book that should encourage kids to read more and IMAGINE more. Adults may find it too simple or a bit spooky, but to kids, this is just another fun story.

If I were a kid, after reading this book I'd be looking behind every door to see if I can find another world. I know I did that after Narnia, dreaming that behind my wardrobe from Kedai Perabot Ah Kong is a whole new magical world.

Coraline may not be a perfect book, but then again, neither is Harry Potter. And I certainly enjoyed THIS book more than the LAST TWO Harry Potter books, despite it being only as thick as two chapters in THOSE two books...

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