I do love the library for the fact that you can try something different. I used to love comics as a kid, particularly ‘The Beano’ and anything to do with Batman. The latter led me onto a real phase of loving graphic novels in my early teens and then when my reading stopped ages about 15 so did my love for graphic novels. In fact I have sort of looked upon them with a mix of ‘well it’s not a real book’ and ‘aren’t I a bit too old?’ So, when I saw it at the library, I thought that a graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’ might be the way forward, especially as I loved ‘The Graveyard Book’ earlier in the year.
When Coraline moves into a new apartment block, in a rather spooky old building, with her Mum and Dad she starts to get to know the rather unusual inhabitants of the flats surrounding them. You have your stereotypical ‘crazy old man upstairs’ Mr Bobo a retired circus performer who believes that he is training mice/rats to perform in a very special circus all of their own. There are also the delightful retired actresses Mrs Spink and Mrs Forcible who read Coraline’s tea leaves and feel she might be in grave danger, and they could just be right.
In their new apartment during a rainy day Coraline and her mother find a door that opens onto a brick wall, however one night Coraline discovers the door open and a long passage leading into an almost identical apartment in another world. Here she finds she has ‘other’ parents who initially seem to be the parents that Coraline wishes she had, her parents have been very busy since moving and have been spending less time with her, only as she gets to know them she realises that her ‘other’ parents aren’t what they seem, and they don’t ever want her to leave.
I really hoped I would find ‘Coraline’ a wonderfully escapist read regardless of the way it was delivered (be it images and words, as opposed to just words and descriptions normally) and it was just that. I was taken into a weird and magical world or second dimensions, evil monsters disguised in human form, talking cats, crazy old ladies and men and a rather creepy circus. I really enjoyed it; the more I am reading of Gaiman’s work the more I think he is a great writer. I still want to read the book though interestingly. It was a great experience reading the graphic novel, I just think I would have had an even fuller one (maybe a ten our of ten) if I could have let the images build in my own head rather than on the pages in front of me giving me no option. I don’t think the Coraline in this would be the same as the one I would create myself through my imagination.
A book that will: be perfect if you are dipping a tentative toe into graphic novels, or for anyone who loves any Gaiman they have read already. 8/10
It’s interesting as I think if I hadn’t known there was a book version (which of course I now really want to read – have any of you read the book version of ‘Coraline and Other Stories’?) I think I would have felt completely sated by this; I just now want to read it and see if it has the same effect or a greater one? Batman is different (looking back at my previous graphic novel experience) as I guess I have him engraved on my head from the movies etc from early on. Where would you suggest I head next for a great graphic novel? What other Gaiman novels can you recommend?