I saw the movie before picking up the book. And it was CREEPY! Who'd have thought a kids movie would shake me up so much?! Needless to say, I was eager to read the book after it and it didn't disappoint.
This story is about a girl, Coraline, who moves into a old house, divided into four flats, with her parents. She gets bored pretty quickly with the new place, what with her parents being too busy to spend time with her, so she takes to exploring.
She finds a small door which has been walled but can't get in as it is locked and she doesn't have the key. When she meets her neighbours, Ms Spink and Ms. Forcible (retired stage performers) and Mr. Bobo (trains mice to perform circus tricks), they warn her saying she's in great danger and she ought not to go through that door.
But, like any red-blooded kid, she does anyway.
Once there, in the "Other" world, she finds it is a mirror image of her own world, complete with an "Other" mom and dad. Only, these people have buttons for eyes and want her to join them and stay with them forever.
When Coraline refuses to exchange her eyes for buttons and runs away, back to her own world, she finds out her parents have been kidnapped by the "Other" mother. So she sets out to rescue them - saving the souls of three ghost children along the way, who, instead of going back to their own world, had decided to stay with the "Other" mother (who had then tricked them and eaten their souls).
I'm surprised this book is classified as a kid's novel, but this is me, speaking as a twenty-something year old; if I try to put myself in a kid's shoes, though, I can see the allure.
Coraline is a fine character. She is just like any other regular kid, nothing more, nothing less; Inquisitive, reckless, scared but yet brave and bored of anything "normal". Gaiman creates a trio of unique, odd-ball characters in the form of Ms. Spink, Ms. Forcible and Mr.Bobo. The "Other" Mother was truly scary - or maybe it was just my imagination fueled by that excellent movie (must watch, BTW)
A good book to read right before bed for those who love a bit of horror every now and then. Four stars for the sheer brilliance of Gaiman's imagination.