In the quest for the secret recipe to “What makes a good story?” …I’ve been trying to read more Y.A. fiction, in hopes of gaining some good insights. The most interesting book recently has been Coraline, by Neil Gaiman.

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

This story is dark. And I loved the darkness. I loved the fantastic imagery.

I liked the character profiles. Each character had a role in both the dark fantasy world and the “real” world. They had distinct characteristics that flavored the story, but more importantly their identities were colorfully clear to the reader. There were no extraneous characters. All of them had a purpose in the story. This simplifies the story, both in good and bad ways. Good, for keeping the plot line tight. Bad, for over-simplifying the complexities of the “real” world.

As an adult, I found myself trying to analyze his symbolism. It kept changing as I read it, which made it really fun.

How could a small girl simply walk into a dark musty hallway so fearlessly? I loved how Coraline never saw any option other than being brave. I kept wanting her to make the “safe” choice, but sure enough, she would make the most edgy choice possible. Chickening out never even occurred to her. She inadvertently gave me courage to not be as creeped out as I could’ve been.

I also loved how Coraline was smart!  In fact, I also felt smart. As the reader, I enjoyed piecing the clues together. This type of reader engagement was really successful.

Perhaps what makes it translate nicely to film is the way it’s been crafted in such a nice and neat way. The circle is closed, and order is restored. There are nice parallels and Coraline is transformed. There is something a little too neat about this package, though.

I also enjoyed the illustrations by Dave McKean. Nice and twisted.

I just watched the trailer to the film and I have a feeling I wont like it as much as I enjoyed the book.


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