I read Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002) in only a few hours. It’s a young adult story, one in the creepy-and-weird, Gothic vein of Edward Gorey.
Coraline is a little girl who, while bored, discovers a locked, clearly magical, passageway out of her parents’ apartment into a weird, opposite world. In this world, she has “other parents,” her neighbors are weird versions of themselves, and nothing is what it seems to be. After escaping from this weird and scary place, however, she learns that her “other mother” has imprisoned her real parents in a strange, magical half-world and it’s up to Coraline to discover how to free them. She has to go back to the “other mother” and make a deal to release her parents.
I loved how Coraline is a smart, funny little girl, but she’s also clearly a little girl, and not some kind of unrealistically grownup version of a little girl, like some literary characters. She’s a little bit childish and she can be irritating and petulant. That made me like her more.
I haven’t seen the movie Coraline (2009), but I can see how Gaiman’s intensely detailed descriptions of the weird, creepy other world could be transferred to a movie screen. I loved how he seemed to revel in describing the deformed, doughy, scary, soulless beings that live in the other world, beings that Coraline has to steel herself to fight and outwit.
I’d definitely want to give this to a young reader, or recommend it to older readers.