Coraline is a Halloween favorite on my October reading list every year. It’s creepy, its storyline is a nail-biter, and the characters get more fascinating as you reread. For those who may have never heard of the franchise, Coraline is a story following an independent young girl named Coraline who moves to a new apartment complex with her workaholic parents. Exhausted by her parent’s stress and her creepy neighbors, Coraline stumbles upon a hidden door in her new home. Curious, she goes through, and she discovers a fantasy world of her old life, all run by someone who calls herself the “other mother.” Things aren’t always as they seem, and soon Coraline faces an adventure she cannot turn away.
The book is a curious read, and it eventually inspired a remake. In 2008, a graphic novel version of Coraline was released. With its popularity soaring and the adaption of adding more imagery to the storyline, fans had no idea what was soon to come. Of course, it is the famous movie remake released in 2009. Adapted from the chapter book, the stop-motion animated movie hit the big screens and surprised many of its viewers with its prodigiously positive ratings.
I will be the one to say it, but when a book is remade into a movie version, it’s usually never as good as the book. But even after fourteen years since its release date, Coraline the movie, is still considered one of the best stop motion pictures of the twenty-first century. The real question is, how should you take in Coraline this year? In this piece, we will dissect all three adaptions to the Coraline franchise and encourage readers to try one out!
Coraline – The Chapter Book – by Neil Gaiman
Now, of course, we have to start with the original! If you consider yourself a movie person, I suggest mixing it up and attempting the chapter book by Neil Gaiman. I originally saw the movie first, and I read the books a few days later. I eagerly encourage you to read the book, as there are a few important details to point out that stand different from the movie.
Firstly, what stuck out most was the shift in Coraline’s personality. We all know the movie version of Coraline’s character as gutsy, confident, and eager to stand up for herself. However, in the book, she is proper, attentive, and quietly curious. Though I’ve grown to love the movie character Coraline and her snappy nature, reading her as an introvert is quite different in a good way. It is fascinating to see her observant personality get her out of situations that the movie Coraline would approach differently. For example, when she first arrives in the “other” world, the book Coraline seems stand-offish from the “other” families’ odd behaviors, and it takes her some time to warm up to her fantasy world. Yet confident movie character Coraline is hooked to her “other” world as soon as her “other” mother offers her a mango milkshake!
Another thing that is different about the book is Wybie, Coraline’s quirky neighbor. That being, there is no Wybie! Though we have all grown to love the friendly boy next door, he is not necessary in the book’s storyline. His character seems to help guide Coraline’s path in the movie, but the book has a different approach. Instead of Wybie helping Coraline find her way, she seems to have to work out her struggles solo. She is never given her mini-me doll by Wybie, and she never has his opinion to help her choose what her next steps will be.
Coraline is more alone in the book, which is curious because of her independent personality in the movie. While reading, you get more of Coraline’s personal way of helping herself instead of leaning on another’s guidance. I find it extremely interesting to see Coraline’s selfishness exposed in the book. I feel the movie tends to hide some of her independence because of Wiybie’s helpfulness, even though her character has this self-sustaining activeness. But without his guidance, Coraline must puzzle her own skills and fight her situation single-handedly.
This is such an outstanding read because it does differ from the movie in many aspects. Even with its differences, it still gives the movie adaptions, and there are countless similarities to both. Not to mention the detailed illustrations from Dave Mckean. His adaption of creepiness oozes out of his illustrations, and he does a wonderful job at adding a scare to the book. There are other popular versions of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline but with other illustrators’ work, such as Chris Riddel’s adaption from 2015. However, Dave Mckean, the original Illustrator, is considered the most popular version. I think this book is a not miss, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good Halloween read with some new content and also looking for some nostalgic feels.
Coraline – Graphic Novel Version – by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russel
Imagine Coraline, the chapter book but with pictures. How fantastic does that sound? Coraline, the Graphic novel, is a must-read, in my opinion. I might say I like it more than the chapter book! What makes it stand out is obvious, but the illustrations truly capture the emotion from the book’s dialogue. Ultimately, the GN version is the same as the chapter book with some minor changes, and of course, it is attached with outstanding illustrations from P. Craig Russel.
Comparing this to the original chapter book, the GN, of course, has more illustrations. I find this story necessary to have some imagery with the text to expand on creepiness levels, which I appreciate dearly from the chapter book. It is rare to find any illustrations in chapter books, and since I love illustrations, the chapter book stuck out so much because of Mckean’s imagery that was used. So when I found out there is an entire GN Coraline, I knew I was already obsessed.
P. Craig Russel did a fantastic performance at balancing the imagery and dialogue. When reading a graphic novel, I find there is either too much wording or illustration that drowns the other out. But this piece has an evenly amount of both. Another thing about this book is that it’s the creepiest adaptation of all three. I think it might be because the illustrations look more human than animated, and I think Russel did this to add to the fear meter. The more human the image looks, the more life-like it feels.
The most absurd part is this is a children’s book, and it had me scared enough to put the book down for an hour or two and digest what I just read. The ‘other’ mother especially had me spooked. She looks too real not to be creepy. Though I love the imaginative process a chapter book can put its readers through, I think that the story of Coraline is a perfect example of a book that outstrips with illustrations accompanying the dialogue.
Coraline – Movie Version – Directed by Henry Selick
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop all that you doing and put it on right now. It is such an inspiring, original piece of stop-motion film. Though I love many animations, this film takes the cake and leaves no crumbs. This movie was made in a stop-motion design and took around four years to make. Stop-motion is rarely used for animating movies/shows because of how much material and time it takes to put in. The special effects, the countless characters, and the detailed backgrounds surpass any other animation, in my personal opinion.
The thing I find that stands out the most for the movie version of Coraline is how it still creeps out even older audiences. There have been numerous times that I suggest Coraline for a movie night pick, and I get shut down due to its terrifying plot. And I am not talking about children, but full-grown adults saying this movie is too scary to watch. That is quite impressive for a children’s movie being too creepy for some adults.
Though I mentioned it has its differences from the book adaptation, this is exactly why you should give it a try. I know some book obsessors prefer their favorite books to be word-for-word in the movie adaptation, but I personally find movies/TV. Shows that have their own original content add energy to it. I don’t look for repetitiveness but alterations. Sometimes originality overtakes tradition, and in this case, I applaud the changes in the movie adaptation.
In no way am I saying that the movie is better than the book. I love both versions equally for their cleverness and their own twists to the tale. However, I am suggesting that the movie version took a risk in adding its own details, and I think it did an outstanding job at doing so. If you aren’t the biggest reader, try the movie first and see if it suits you. I strongly encourage you to try them all, but if reading really isn’t your cup of tea, at least give the movie a chance and see if you could have a new possible future obsession.
Coraline Unpacked by Anna Colclasure
This recommendation is only for the Coraline super fans, but Coraline Unpacked is a short yet detailed overview of the Coraline franchise. The book focuses on the movie and theorizes very fascinating ideas from its creation. It discusses a broad take on the movie’s stop motion style, various easter eggs that one may not notice while watching, and theory analysis on countless pieces of Coraline Jones and her story with the “other world.”
What I love about this version is how much you can feel Ms. Colclasure’s love for the movie. Her writing oozes passion for the franchise, and as a Coraline fan myself, it is so fascinating to hear other readers/watchers’ theories on Coraline. I find other’s opinions helpful in my experience while analyzing any content, so I felt that her opinions on many theories were super interesting to read about.
I want to make this clear. However, I would only get this book if you are a Coraline fan. If you are new to Coraline, do not start with this book. For one, it’s a theory-based novel, so it would be more beneficial to start with the actual story before jumping into any theories. Another thing is there are spoilers! So if you are looking to get the first read experience, start with one of the previous titles.
This novel is for the Coraline obsessors; I know you are out there! I found this book enlightening, well-written, and overall a great read to add to my collection. I am curious to hear other Coraline fan’s opinions on this title, so give it a chance if you are looking for new Coraline content.
To end this piece, I want to encourage anyone out there who has not heard of Coraline to give her story a chance. Though children’s horror may not be your favorite genre, I feel her story is a unique tale that might touch your heart as much as mine. So, give the movie or the book a try! You may find her story to be more mysterious than you think.
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