Coraline by Neil Gaiman (A review…)

… sort of.

There doesn’t seem to be much need for me to review Coraline. Not only am I very late to the party (only seventeen years), but Coraline seems to already have all the critical and popular acclaim it deserves. So, instead of a proper review, I’m just going to be selfish and tell you all the things I liked about it. You’ll have to excuse the fragmentary nature of these, there doesn’t seem to be a natural way to work them together.

  • Coraline – what a lovely, accidental name.
  • In the vein of Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis, Coraline is a story of a young girl dealing, with great aplomb, with problems that would otherwise terrify, mystify or simply be ignored by adults, and for that, it gets all my love. The G.K. Chesterton quote at the beginning really sums up that ethos. I love that any help she receives from adult is almost incidental. The stone from Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, for instance. Otherwise, most of her problems are solved through her own ingenuity.

‘Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’

G.K. Chesterton
  • Its presentation of how and why to be brave is perfect. My friend recommended it to me on this basis, and on that basis I read it, and was not disappointed. Bravery isn’t slamming your feelings down and ignoring them, so that they can’t hurt you. It’s not some magical state that makes you impervious to fear, like a berserker. Bravery is being scared and doing it anyway.

‘It wasn’t brave because he wasn’t scared: it was the only thing he could do. But going back again to get his glasses, when he knew the wasps were there, when he was really scared. That was brave.’

  • I was lucky enough to have the version illustrated by Chris Riddell for Christmas, and the illustrations are wonderful. They capture the mood I got from the writing perfectly.
  • The characters and the world leap off the page at you, given no little push by Gaiman’s turn of phrase.

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

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