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Listening to the Silence

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Coraline - Neil Gaiman I had been wanting to read this book since I first saw the movie version, and while, as expected, there are some differences, I'd say I enjoyed it, but did not love it. The movie is deliciously dark and horrific, while the book is far more tame. However, I think my age may be coming into play here, as I am not the targeted audience by a long shot.

Coraline is a curious and adventurous young girl who lives in the second floor of a large old home that has been converted to flats. Her parents are often too preoccupied with their work to pay her any attention, so she is typically left to her own devices. One rainy day, trapped indoors with not much to do, she goes exploring and finds a door that at first seems to lead to a brick wall. Yet, when she tries again she finds a long black corridor that opens up to another world, a nearly exact replica of her own.

The movie got the main gist of the story almost exactly right, with a few additions here and there to flesh the story out more to sustain a full length film, including the addition of her friend Wyborn, who was nowhere to be found in the novel. Yet it expressed the darkness of the story so much more fully than Gaiman's book. There were no little shivers of fear of anticipation in his story, but I am not the target audience. I feel sure that were my son reading it, he would not have finished it. He doesn't like horror and this would have been too much for him. Given that, I think that Gaiman achieved exactly what he set out to do. The writing itself was very simplistic, without the usual depth and nuances I've come to expect from this author. I actually think he sold the kids short in this case. The Graveyard Book, written for a similar age range, was not at all lacking in this department, so I'd have to say I'm a bit disappointed in the story from that aspect. In all, it was enjoyable, and though I read it in one afternoon, that was due to the ease of the read, and not because I couldn't put it down. If you have a younger child, say eight or nine, who likes horror, I would recommend this book whole-heartedly, but an adult would probably want something with a bit more complexity, which can definitely be found in almost all of his other novels.