Coraline

by Neil Gaiman

{ 2002 | HarperCollins | 176 pgs }

The Romgi and I recently watched Coraline, and it was such a “this may or may not give me nightmares” movie that I really wanted to compare it to the book. I knew my opinion would be completely different because I’d already seen the movie – almost without fail, I like books when I’ve seen the movie adaptation first. Example: The Count of Monte Cristo. The movie (2002) is so different from the actual plot of the book that it almost seems like they took a few character names and the general idea that a guy goes to prison and then becomes rich after he escapes, and made it into a great movie. But I saw the movie first, and liked it, so it didn’t matter to me that the adaptation was, more or less, terrible. And I liked the book when I finally read it.

The flip side is, of course, seeing movies after reading the books they are based on. Example: Ell Enchanted. I flatly refused to watch the movie when it came out because the book was a favorite, but I ended up seeing at least part of it while I was at someone’s house. And I was right: the movie was hideous. They added unnecessarily ridiculous plot lines, took out what made the book so great, and altogether slaughtered both the story and the general idea of the book.

Which, really, is what they did with the  movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo. And that’s exactly my point.

Now that I’ve gotten somewhat off topic, let me tell you about Coraline (the book and the movie).

The movie is weird. I suggest watching it. Once. I’m not sure I’ll ever read it again.

The book is short. And pretty much as weird as the movie. If you’ve already taken my advice and watched the movie, skip the book. While a lot of adaptations add unnecessary plot lines to the story, I felt like the movie’s few additions enriched the story rather than altering it. The book seemed shallow without the extra character depth of the movie. That, I think, is backwards. Usually you get to know characters much better in books.

The book isn’t bad: just rushed and incomplete compared to the movie. The one difference I felt was better in the book was the final resolution – and while the movie’s resolution was rushed, in the book it was not. Coraline herself is the true hero of the book, while in the movie she gets help from a friend (who isn’t in the book at all) when she needs it most. I did like having Coraline think through the problem and figure out a solution on her own.

And that’s that!

P.S. I had intended to read 26 books this year, beginning with one by an author whose last name began with A and continuing alphabetically through Z. This proved more difficult than anticipated because of having to put books on hold through the library and because of impatience. I’ll still read 26 books, one each from the whole alphabet, but they won’t be in order.

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4 Comments on “Coraline”

  1. romgi says:

    I agree about the movie. definitely worth watching once. Looks like I can skip the book!

  2. KHL says:

    I felt like the movie had so many plot holes. Gaping plot holes. (I thought it was just a bad interpretation of the book. I guess now I know better!) But worse than the plot holes was that I thought the movie was boring.

  3. Kayleen says:

    How funny, I actually enjoyed the movie, because it was weird…but I’m weird, so maybe watching movies like that give me hope for there being a place in this world for me ;)! I had no interest in reading the book, and now don’t feel bad about it. I do agree with you on the Monte Cristo though, I, too, saw the movie and then read the book. I liked both, but know had it been the other way around I would not have liked the movie as much as I do.


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