Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Coraline: 10th Anniversary Edition (2012)

Author: Neil Gaiman | Illustrator: Chris Riddell | Page Count: 192

The names are the first things to go, after the breath has gone, and the beating of the heart.  We keep our memories longer than our names.”

Coraline is a children's book.  It follows the conventions of children's literature closely, not only in story but also in structure and wording.  It even has a “Once upon a time…” moment but in typical Gaiman style it doesn't come until near the end of page one.  It's good to bend rules but he doesn't do it often often.  If he did, it might be a little less formulaic, and a lot more exciting.

It’s not even a very original idea.  The basic plot about a little girl who finds a tunnel to another world throws up obvious comparisons to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865).  It’s neither as imaginative nor as good as Carroll’s work but it’s darker in tone, and with it being Gaiman the way the fantastical is hidden in the seemingly mundane is well constructed.

The world and the people in it are described from Coraline’s perspective.  It’s not a first person narrative but she’s there every step of the way.  Her limited experience with the trials of life outside her safe home environment inform her decisions and her observations, which are then passed onto the reader undiluted and free of complication.  Children who are avid readers shouldn't have much difficulty with the language, although the very young may not understand the unsettling nature of some of the themes presented.
It'll likely appeal more to the kids that collect spiders in a matchbox than the kind that make daisy chains.

The 10th Anniversary Edition adds a short introduction by the author, and some black and white illustrations by artist Chris Riddell that weren't in the original release.  There's one full page picture before each chapter begins.  The actual story content is identical to the previous edition.

2½ eerie familiarities out of 5

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