The Archives

Book Review: "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman

Sunday · 28 Jan 07 · 06:24 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

As I mentioned in a previous post, I bought the book Coraline by Neil Gaiman on Friday.  The reason this particular book caught my attention at the Landmark bookstore was that I'd previously heard about a movie adaptation of the story in the works, at Arrow in the Head (this article).  Besides, it had a nifty cover with a Dave McKean illustration, which used a combination of matte and gloss finish to make it appear as though there were ghostly hands reaching out for the little girl; and it wasn't that expensive (Rs. 196 for the paperback).  Anyway, I finished reading the book this afternoon, and here are my thoughts on it:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman — book cover and movie poster

The book is about a young girl called Coraline Jones, who moves into an ancestral home with her parents one summer.  This is a large creaky house, and there are others staying there as well — two old women, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, who had been actresses at one point of time; and an old man who is training a group of mice to perform in what he calls a "mouse circus".  It is summer holidays and Coraline's parents, though caring and loving, are IT people and therefore aren't able to spend a lot of time with her.  So Coraline spends time exploring the yard and other places near the house.

One day, she comes across an old door inside the house, that opens up to a brick wall — her mother tells her that the old, abandoned flat which was once, one half of their house, is probably on the other side.  At night, Coraline finds the key that opens the door, and is surprised to find the brick wall missing, and in its place, a dark passageway.  The dark passageway leads her into a "copy" of her flat, a somehow odd, creepy copy.  Things get a bit more spooky when she realises that this house is inhabited by her "other" mother and "other" father, who want to keep her in this alternate reality.  This world is filled with warped versions of entities in the real world — some evil, others willing to help her (like a black cat that can only converse with her in the alternate world).  What's worse, her actual parents seem to be missing, and it's up to Coraline to save them and escape this realm.

I can't claim to be that familiar with Neil Gaiman's work, because apart from this book and the movie MirrorMask (which is written by Gaiman), I've only read about 10 issues of his Sandman comics (those are amazing, though).  Anyway, this book, targeted at children and young adults, is interesting and very imaginative.  I wouldn't say it is all that scary though (I don't know how kids might find it) — maybe I didn't get as involved in the world as I was supposed to, or maybe my imagination didn't make the alternate reality "evil" enough.  Anyway, the action picked up more towards the final scenes, when things got a bit more dangerous for the lead character.

There is a film adaptation of Coraline in the works.  The picture I've posted above shows the book cover (left) and the movie poster (right).  The movie is going to be a stop-motion animated feature, and is being directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), with the main character voiced by Dakota Fanning.  I'd definitely be interested in seeing that, unfortunately, it won't be out until 2008.  Anyway, there is also a comicbook adaptation being done, with artwork by P Craig Russell.  I found a post on his blog with some preview pages from the adaptation, here, and there is also this post on Gaiman's journal with a couple of lettered pages from the graphic novel.

MirrorMask — written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Dave McKean

The book shares similarities with the film MirrorMask, which is written by Gaiman and directed by collaborator Dave McKean (who did covers for the Sandman books and also did the cover and other illustrations for Coraline).  That movie is about a young girl, Helena (Stephanie Leonidas), who finds herself transported into an alternate fantasy realm, inhabited by strange and creepy creatures, with a warped version of her mother as the queen.  The queen wants to trap Helena in this reality, Helena must find the mystical MirrorMask if she is to return to her world.  I'd seen the movie before reading this book, so because of that, the book felt a bit repetitive.  Anyway, both are interesting enough, though I feel Gaiman's work on Sandman is better!

1 comment(s) for this post.

Misbehaving Internet Connection

Saturday · 27 Jan 07 · 01:02 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

It may appear as though I disappeared off the face of the planet for some time, at least as far as this blog is concerned.  The reason behind this is simple — the internet connection was acting strange.  For a week or so, on some days, no sites were accessible at all.  Other days, only Gmail, Google, orkut and my site would work (this was puzzling even to the guys at Tata Indicom, since it's usually all or nothing when it comes to internet access).  Anyway, they fixed it for a while, but after that the connection started behaving strangely again — on some days, sites were accessible only at certain times during the day, with no access at other times; and on other days, nothing was accessible at all.

Finally, two days back, normalcy was restored, and the connection is back.  So, what has happened in the recent past?  I'll present some highlights in bullet-points:

  • Spent a few hours with my cousins Kiran and Maya last week after work.  My uncle and family had come to India after a long time, and it was great to meet them all.  Today we had Republic Day Celebrations at office, and after that got over, there was some other work to be done, following which I visited my cousins again, and had a very good time.
  • At the TCS Sholinganallur Centre, where I work, a movie is screened every Thursday.  A couple of weeks back, they showed The Usual Suspects and I was, expectedly, overjoyed.  I watched part of the movie on that day.
  • Nothing could contain my joy this past Tuesday though, when this Thursday's movie was declared — Fight Club, which is part of my all-time-favourites / best-movies-ever!  I was determined to watch the movie, and so I did, and I got my colleague Dilip to watch it also.  What an amazing film!  This is the first time I am seeing it on a big screen (well, it's not a theatre, but it's close... I've only seen this movie on TV or on a computer screen earlier) and it was certainly an experience.  Respect to those who recommended it, and respect to the people who actually went ahead and screened this gleefully subversive movie!
  • Other movies I have seen recently include: Day Watch [Dnevnoy Dozor] (the sequel to the Russian fantasy/SF/action hybrid Night Watch [Nochnoi Dozor]), all three Taxi films (French action/comedy movies, all written by Luc Besson), the comedy Thank You for Smoking, the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated, and the original Chinese Infernal Affairs.
  • Today, I stopped off at Odyssey in Adyar before meeting my cousins, and bought the DVD of Rang De Basanti (I bought a VCD version before, but never got around to watching it — today I thought why not watch it on DVD itself, as the quality would obviously be better, and besides, the DVD is reasonably priced too, at Rs. 199).
  • My uncle, cousins and myself went to Landmark today and I was glad to see that Night Watch [Nochnoi Dozor] has got an official Indian DVD & VCD Release (from Excel Home Videos)!  The DVD's price is a bit steep (Rs. 699) but it seems to be an import of the original Russian DVD (and not the US version).
  • I also bought a book at Landmark today — Coraline by Neil Gaiman.  How I came to buy this is, I saw this article on Arrow in the Head, about a film version of this work, and I was hooked by the storyline (a girl finds a key that opens a door leading to an apartment that is a duplicate of her house, and inhabited by an "other" mother of hers).  So, when I saw this book, I decided to buy it.  It seems to be quite a short book so I plan to read it now, after posting this update!

Well, that's all for now, will be back with other updates soon.

0 comment(s) for this post.

Back from Hyderabad

Thursday · 4 Jan 07 · 12:53 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

Vacation time is coming to an end as I write this post!  From 29th December I was in Hyderabad for the holidays, and tomorrow, it's back to the routine — work and all.  Anyway, my stay at home was really great.

I got to spend time and make my New Year Card for 2007, which a few people have said is my best comic till date.  I watched the South Park episode Good Times With Weapons and also got the song from that episode, called "Let's Fighting Love".  All information related to that (and download link for the song) can be found at the Wikipedia article for the episodeVarun gave me a couple of copies of a Birthday Card that he has printed.  Awesome work.

I watched Casino Royale in the theatre.  The first film I watched in 2007 was the amazing Clerks II.  While I liked Clerks., I loved the sequel, and I think it's a 10/10 movie for me (or atleast a 9).  Today, I saw The Illusionist and just now wrapped up watching the outrageous Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

I realise that I am yet to put up the behind-the-scenes look at the New Year Card I made, so I will do that now... but after getting a nice hot cup of tea.

EDIT (03:31): I've prepared the images and also done part of the write-up for the behind-the-scenes page, but it's very late now.  So I'll complete and post it tomorrow.

3 comment(s) for this post.

Happy New Year! (and 2007's First Post)

Monday · 1 Jan 07 · 11:15 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

New Year greetings to all, hope you have a wonderful 2007!

It's been a tradition for me (since 2002... whoa, has it been that long?) to put up an e-card on my site every New Year, and this year's no different.  This time, it's (you guessed right) a one-page comic story, which came out quite nicely, and IMHO, has a nice message as well.  So, have a look at the New Year Card for 2007!

This card took quite a long time to make — took about 2 hours to draw itself, because I had to come up with a style to do it in.  I think it took nearly 4 hours for all the post-processing stuff, due to which I'm almost a day late in putting up the card.  But thanks to this tutorial by Les McClaine, I managed to get quite a nice look for the whole thing.  I'll put up the drawing on my Art Gallery with all the behind-the-scenes information soon.

Anyway, Happy New Year again, and do tell me what you think of the card.

1 comment(s) for this post.
Recent Comments
Recent Posts
Latest Doom Map
Dark Fate 2 — a Doom II map by Karthik Abhiram

Dark Fate 2 is a singleplayer level for Doom II, replacing MAP01.  It's a small-sized hellish level — and there's a walkthrough video as well.

Popular Videos
Other Destinations
Favourite Posts
Some Statistics
  • news posts two · 173
  • news posts one · 301
  • comments · 1168
  • drawings · 77
The Author

Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

Email: karthik82 -AT- gmail -DOT- com
orkut profile
Facebook profile
YouTube channel
deviantART page
Google Reader Shared Items

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are purely my own.

Warning: This site occasionally contains profanity.

Creative Commons License