Review: Coraline

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Pages: 162
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Horror, Childrens
My Rating: 4/5
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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“Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.”

* * *

Why did I not know about this book sooner? I’m one of those people that reads a book long before it ever becomes a movie; however, in this case it didn’t work out that way.

In 2009 when the film Coraline came out, you bet I was there to watch it. A Tim Burton-esque atmosphere is what I wanted, and that’s what I got. When I found out there was actually a book, I was ecstatic (yes, it took me a while to realize that)!

I started reading Coraline and in a short period of time, I was finished. All I can say is, “Wow!” What a great little read!  This is one of those books that you can enjoy regardless of your age, and there’s something special about that.

Basically, little Coraline and her family move to a big house that has been converted into different sections so many families can live in it at once. She feels lonely and ignored because her parents are always too busy for her, but have no fear! Coraline is an adventurer! She goes to meet all the people in the house that, quite unkindly, refer to her as Caroline. There’s two women who used to be actresses, and a crazy old man who lives upstairs with performing mice.

The house’s yard is huge and you can tell that it used to be well kept. There’s a large garden, a tennis court, and even an old well. Coraline spends her days exploring the place, seeing if she can find anything interesting. She finds a cat, but he seems utterly uninterested in her.

One day, she thinks she sees something, so she goes into an unused room in her part of the house thinking the thing darted into the door, but not only is it locked, but when it’s opened, all it is is a brick wall. Eventually, weird things start to happen and Coraline finds herself in a seemingly other world, where the people have button eyes.

Again I repeat, “wow.”

The movie was excellent, yes, but this book beats it by a lot (isn’t that usually the case?). I found myself fully immersed into the world, and at certain points, I felt like I was right beside Coraline as her friend, helping her explore and figure things out.  I’m all for going into alternate worlds; the mere thought is completely captivating, though I don’t know how I’d feel about people with button eyes!

My favourite character in this story was the cat. He has no name, he is just the cat, and he is wonderful. Aside from the cat being amazing, Coraline surprises everyone by being brave even when she’s afraid and convinced that home is no longer her own.

I think this would be a wonderful read no matter what age you are; however, I believe that kids in the 6-10 age range would probably enjoy it the most. I know I certainly would have!

Coraline just goes to show that when you care about something enough, the courage to persevere will come out, no matter how small.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

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Review: House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Pages: 709

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Literature, Speculative Fiction, Adult

My Rating: 4/5

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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“Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth — musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies — the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.”

Um, wow.

This was an interesting read, and by no means a fast one. Within this novel (if you’d even call it that) there are probably 4 stories and all of the quotes and references it makes constantly have you flipping through pages to find the next thing. There are pages with one word on it, pages where you have to turn the book upside down or sideways, and to be honest, there were times I didn’t know what was going on. This book really tests your ability to multi-task because there is so much going on and you are constantly flipping from one subject/story to the next, and it isn’t as though it ends before it switches, oh no, no, it will switch right in the middle of a sentence. You have to remember what was said so that 4 pages later, after reading the other part, you can continue with what you first started reading.

Confused yet?

In all honesty, it wasn’t that hard to follow, there was just a lot of information from within. It definitely gives you a lot to think about in regards to how novels are written; it challenges everything you know!

What made me choose this book was the fact it’s about a house that’s bigger on the inside. I’m a Doctor Who fan and it (obviously) made me think of the tardis, though it’s not even close to being similar.

Basically, this guy named Johnny collects papers from Zampano, and puts it all together. Simultaneously, we’re reading about the Navidson record and what’s happening with Navy and Karen.

There’s a family living in this house that (did my font colour change? No, not the blue. I just realized I could change the colour) finds closets pop up out of nowhere and there are hallways that lead, seemingly, to nowhere. The Navidson record is a bunch of photographs and recorded information from when they decided to search this area.

It’s hard to explain, you’d have to read it for yourself.

I was actually quite freaked out while reading this. The growling in the dark really disturbed me (I’m terrified of the dark) and I had to put the book out of sight for a while just because it got to me. I think this book is a real psychological thriller. Not in the way that other novels are, but this makes you think. What is real? What IS reality?

I started questioning my sanity!

Is this house controlled by psychological fear? It seemed that everything that was happening was based on someone’s psychological state. The book, at one point, even states something about the psychological state. Now THAT really made me start thinking!

The ending also got to me. Johnny’s mother was in an asylum. She was constantly writing letters to him, and I don’t know if she was actually insane or not. A lot of the same things had been happening to Johnny (ie. nightmares). His mother seemed more sane than anyone in the book! But it got me thinking… was Johnny real? Early on, I questioned whether Zampano ever existed. Was his mother actually him? Did any of this really happen?

So many questions…

Maybe I misunderstood some stuff (I skimmed some parts), but I don’t know if there’s anything to misunderstand, it seems to be open for interpretation. And I couldn’t imagine how long it took to write, it seemed like a lot of these references were made up! I also didn’t find it “terrifying” like some did. It made you think more than feel like running away.

Anyway, if you’re looking to read something out of the box and different from what you’re used to, I totally suggest this book. It wasn’t the greatest, but it was pretty good. I gave it a 4/5 just because of the sheer insanity within. I’ve never seen a book like this before (besides an I-spy book) where you need a mirror to read pages and do all this other stuff.

This book isn’t a read. It’s an experience.

Enjoy, and happy reading!