Book Review: Coraline Graphic Novel

Coraline Graphic NovelCoraline Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

SO! This book. A review for you? Okey doke.

The hubs and I were discussing this book after he had finished it and he said that the hard thing for him was the lack of style-ized-ness (I know, I know... not a word) since the original book and the movie were both so stylized.

Now. I do not know why P. Craig Russel did this. BUT! I have some thoughts about how it affects the story for the reader. If you read Coraline, or were creeped out by it (I almost classified it as "Horror" on Good reads ;) ) and didn't want to read it, or if you 'd like to get a general idea of the story without committing to reading the whole book, this may or may not be the book for you.

I feel like this interpretation of the book and the style of the illustrations did two things for this story. Those two things are in direct opposition with each other. I feel like it made the book scarier, and at the same time less scary. Here's why:

When the book (and also the film) was written, the original illustrations that accompany it are very kid friendly... they look like sweet children's illustrations. They even seem to have inspired some popular dolls for little girls. (Speaking of, I cannot walk past that aisle in Wal-mart without being a little creeped out and wishing for a stone with a hole in the middle.)
When illustrations look like a fun children's story but really turn out to be something of a horror story it adds a really creepy element -- introducing terror to innocence. Like, for me, when I watch a scary movie that has children in it, or if the children even turn out to be the bad guys, it is SO much scarier and creepier and ickier. So, in this way I feel like this version is a lot less creepy because it takes the sweet, silly innocence out of the creepiness.
The illustrations also make it look like it is not for little kids so it makes it seem like a more grown-up book. Which in turn makes it less scary since the content doesn't seem as frightening for middle school-ers as it would for elementary kids.

Here's the flipside:
Have you read Maus? Something I always felt about Maus was that it took some of the reality away from the story (in a good way) by using animals instead of people in the illustrations. It helped me be able to read the story without breaking down sobbing every-other frame.
In this case I feel like it's the opposite since in it the pictures are more realistic. It takes the fantasy element away and makes it more real and therefore a little scarier.

For the most part I really liked this book. I felt like the pacing was good and the illustrations were beautifully done. The meat of the story was there and seeing so much of the book in pictures added a fun goose-bump inducing element. I.e. seeing the "other father" in his globby maggot-flesh, eyeless form was extra creepy when you see him in four or five frames and chasing after Coraline.

It was definitely not as great as the original, and I (personally) like the stylized illustrations and fantastical style better... but it wasn't bad. It was, honestly, fairly well done.

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