Coraline by Neil Gaiman (author) and P.Craig Russell (adapter and illustrator) – (graphic novel)
How I discovered the book
One of my friends who inducted me into graphic novels introduced me to Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’. Since then I have read a few episodes of ‘Sandman’ but haven’t been able to read the whole series from the beginning to the end. Later one of my new friends, who is a Neil Gaiman connoisseur herself, introduced me to ‘Coraline’ and ‘The Graveyard book’. I hadn’t heard of them before. The titles looked quite interesting and so I had put them on my reading list. When I went to the bookshop sometime back, I found that the graphic novel version of ‘Coraline’ was available and I was tempted to get it. When a book is first published as a novel and then adapted as a graphic novel, I try to read the novel version first and if I like it, I try reading the graphic novel version. In the case of ‘Coraline’ the graphic novel was very appealing. So I got both the novel version and the graphic novel version out of the bookshelf and compared them. When I read through the first pages of both, I found that every line was there in both. But I knew that later in the story this will change and the graphic novel version would have abbreviated some of the descriptions and events in the novel version. So I was in two minds – whether to get the novel version or not. Finally after a lot of thinking, I decided to get the graphic novel version, because I couldn’t resist it. I finished reading it recently, and here is the review.
Summary of the story
I am giving below a summary of the story as given in the inside flap.
When Coraline steps through a door in her family’s new house, she finds another house strangely similar to her own (only better). At first, things seem marvelous. The food is better than at home, and the toy box is filled with fluttering wind-up angels and dinosaur skulls that crawl and rattle their teeth.
But there is 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 wit and all the tools she can find if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.
Acclaimed artist P.Craig Russell brings Neil Gaiman’s enchanting, nationally best-selling children’s book CORALINE to new life in this gorgeously illustrated graphic novel adaptation.
What I think
The book depicts and contrasts two worlds – one the real, complex, imperfect world we live in, where parents don’t have time for their children, where the food cooked at home is not interesting, and where people around are boring, and a different world which is the opposite version of the real one, where parents have all the time for their children, the food cooked at home is delicious and the people around are interesting. But behind the fabulous facade there is something dark and sinister, as nothing comes without a price. As the old saying goes ‘Be careful what you wish for. You might get it’. Is the fabulous facade worth the price is what the heroine Coraline has to decide in the book. Looking at this way, I think the book can be read at many levels – as a fairy tale with a little bit of a dark theme, and as a book for adults with hidden messages everywhere.
I liked the book very much. The artwork is very vivid and beautiful. There are places where Russell depicts a big forest-like garden, which is very beautiful and magnificent and takes one’s mind back to a different place and time. I also liked the black cat which comes in the story – it becomes Coraline’s friend, is sometimes sarcastic with its comments, gives good advice and helps her in important ways. I seem to like black cats which play important roles in stories – I liked the black cat in ‘The Master and Margarita’ too, which drinks vodka and likes playing chess.
My friend who inspired me to read ‘Coraline’ says that the movie version of ‘Coraline’ is out and is as good as the book. I am hoping to watch the movie as well as read the novel version of the book.
You can check the following links for more information on the book.
From Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coraline
Review by Philip Pullman – http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/aug/31/booksforchildrenandteenagers.neilgaiman
Interview with Craig Russell – http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080819-PCRussell.html
Essay by Neil Gaiman – http://www.powells.com/fromtheauthor/gaiman.html
I liked the book very much. I am planning to read the novel version of the book and also watch the movie based out of the book soon. If you like graphic novels and fantasy fiction for young adults, you will love this.