Monday, March 8, 2010

Closing Thoughts: Coraline

# of pages: 162
Total pages: 7,391
Avg pages/book: 321.35

Ahh! My pages-per-book number is dying!!!

As usual, Gaiman crafts a really creative tale of dark fantasy, this time targeted for younger readers. The book actually had all the qualities of a classic Roald Dahl tale, only much darker. (And I realize that Roald could get kinda creepy, but he never had, say, three hollowed-out children whose souls had been slowly eaten away and were now locked in a closet) Your protagonist is an adventurous youngster with busy parents, constantly misunderstood and underappreciated by the adults in her life, who finds a magical world behind a magic door. Said child eventually has to save the day by rescuing her parent and defeating an evil witch-like entity. It's definitely a winning formula.

At times, Coraline reads like a ghost story, like a haunted house on steroids. When I was a kid, I remember the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series of books were quite popular with my classmates. Similarly, my friends and I loved to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark? on Nickelodeon. Looking back, some of those stories were downright creepy, and it just never bothered me at that age. I think Coraline fits into that category. I'm not sure why kids (say, 10-14 or so) have such an appetite for the supernaturally spooky, but my guess is I'd have been less creeped out by Gaiman's Coraline at age twelve than I was at age twenty-seven.

That said, it's definitely a reminder that I want to be reading what my kid is reading as he grows up, so we can discuss things like Coraline to make sure we're developing a nice healthy appetite for fantasy, keeping things like good and evil in perspective, and not just fostering nightmare fodder. :-)


  1. Have you seen the movie? I haven't read the book, but it sounds like it did a pretty decent portrayal.

    Also, the whole 'buttons for eyes' thing had me creeped out before things even started looking bad...

  2. Hi Will!
    Glad to see your reading project is going swimmingly! Your post on The Secret Garden made me laugh. I read that book (and saw all the movie versions) quite a lot when I was young, but the whole "magic" thing always kind of boggled my little mind. Also, I LOVED Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain when I was a kiddo! Aaand...I just finished 100 Years of Solitude, myself! I did get a bit bogged down in the last quarter, but really, it was some of the most beautiful and well-crafted writing I've ever read. Apparently the Noble Prize people thought so, too.
    Hope all is well in Houston!!