02 April 2010

Book Review: Coraline (the graphic novel)

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
After Coraline's family movies in to a new house, she sets out to explore.  She walks through a door in her house, down a passageway, and finds herself...back in her house.  It takes only seconds for her to realize that the place she is in is not her real house, for in the kitchen is her mother, her other mother, with spidery hands and black buttons for eyes.  This other mother wants Coraline to stay with her, to love her, forever.

My Thoughts
I have read the book, I have seen the movie, and now I've read the graphic novel.  It is so strange to see the same story in three different formats.  Heck, I'm wondering if I should get the audio version and just cover all of my bases.

For a real review of the story, I would read my original review of the book.  For this post, I'm more concerned with adapting a book to a graphic novel and with the qualities of this particular graphic novel.  First, the matter of adaptation.  I am first and foremost a book girl, and I think I always will be.  The ability to use words to flesh out characters, delve into psyches, and add details to the plot, and the ability to allow reader imagination, is what sets a book apart from everything else in my opinion.  A movie is missing words; a graphic novel is missing words; and while the audio version may use the same words, even the use of a narrator changes reader interpretation.  The book is the thing.

Specific to this book-to-graphic novel adaptation, I was not displeased really; I just felt like things were missing.  The story itself remained, and the creepy factor was still high, but things moved a bit quickly.  And things looked...different.  Different than in my head when I originally read the story, and different from the vision put on the big screen (which I adored).  Seeing Coraline with long blonde hair and blue shorts and a pink shirt was a bit off-putting after seeing the darkly gothic Coraline on screen.

I'm unsure of what to say about the qualities of the graphic novel itself.  I didn't find the images overly necessary, and I like a chunk of the story to be in the images when I read a graphic novel.  Plus, there was quite a bit of narration instead of dialogue and action.  It was like someone telling you "she read some books" and then showing her reading books.  Tell, then show.  Tell, then show.  I prefer to get straight to the showing.

I do find myself wondering how I would react had I not read the book or watched the movie prior to reading the graphic novel. It's sad that there is no way to experiment with my memory to see how my opinion would change.

Memorable Scene: May I just saw...ewwwwwww

Other Reviews
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FTC Disclosure:  Library Book #3 peeps. I'm on a roll.
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge, Graphic Novels Challenge, Once Upon a Time, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,


  1. I really want to read this! I don't imagine I'll like it as much as the book, but it helps that Gaiman adapted it himself.

  2. I've only read the book, but I agree...that girl on the cover? That's just not Coraline.

  3. You know... I've been wondering the same thing. I will be posting my review of the graphic novel this weekend and have been considering listening to the audio version. I agree, the girl on the cover doesn't look like Coraline. But I otherwise enjoyed it.

  4. Amanda - I think it's worth it just because it's Gaiman. I totally have a geek crush on that man.

    softdrink - Isn't it strange how the way a character looks can really affect your enjoyment?

    pussreboots - Be sure to give me your link when you review it!

  5. I imagine I won't enjoy this quite as much as the novel (just because I'm so attached to it), but I'd still like to get to it sometime. It's too bad about the telling then showing...definitely unnecessary.

    I'm a bit confused by Amanda's comment - was Neil Gaiman involved in the adaptation at all? I thought it was all P. Craig Russell.

  6. Nymeth - I thought Russell was the one who adapted and illustrated as well, but I don't know that for sure. It could be that I named Gaiman as the author so it seemed I was saying he wrote the graphic novel; I always feel like credit should go to the original source, but that could be very misleading in cases like this.

  7. Here's my link to the Coraline graphic novel review. I listed Gaiman as the author and Russell as the illustrator just as I would any other Gaiman graphic novel.


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