Book Review: STARDUST and CORALINE, both by Neil Gaiman

Somewhere in the acknowledgements of STARDUST, Neil Gaiman thanks a slew of authors (C.S. Lewis included) for showing him that fairy stories can be for adults and not just for children. This is exactly what STARDUST is: a fairy story for adults.

Generally when something is referred to as "for adults" that means either a) that it's boring, or b) that there's sex involved. However, STARDUST is neither boring nor sleazy (though it's not without its romantic moments)--the story moves along rapidly, through the village of Wall and the Land of Faerie, switching from character to character, subplot to subplot, in such a seamless fashion that I was reminded often that authors like Neil Gaiman are why I love reading. The man can tell a story, without a doubt.


Which brings me to CORALINE.

While CORALINE seemed marketed more explicitly toward kids, it was a whole heck of a lot scarier than STARDUST. The eerie environment and creepy characters, however, merely added to CORALINE's charm, as did the illustrations by Dave McKean (you may or may not recall that Gaiman and McKean teamed up on the movie Mirrormask--which was very cool).

See, Coraline lives in a flat with a door that opens into another flat--the flat where everything is better. The one catch, of course, is that the mother in that flat wants to keep Coraline. Forever.

The conditions on which she wants to keep Coraline, as you might imagine, are not good. The story that unfolds is spooky and utterly absorbing, and the book is short and perfect for times when you're bedridden with the flu (in fact, having a fever when you read this book seems to spice things up).

I loved CORALINE, maybe better than STARDUST, because Coraline was such a fascinating character, and Gaiman let her carry the whole book. A strong character leading the plot along always makes me happy.


1 comment:

that one guy said...

Several things I adore about "Coraline":

1. That it is an honest to goodness horror story for kids
2. That Coraline relies on wit, intelligence, and reason to save the day
3. That her 'real' parents aren't horrible, evil, or rude
4. The well scene near the end.
5. That it is being made into a movie by Henry Sellick, of "James and the Giant Peach" fame

Several things I love about "Stardust"

1. The star's first word after hitting earth
2. Gaiman's ability to abrubtly change modes from humor to fantasy to fantasy/horror
3. The ending
4. The whole idea of the wall, and how it seperates the world
5. That it is being made into a movie that's coming out this summer! Yay!

I love Neil Gaiman a lot - and I love these two books, though "American Gods" is my absolute favorite of his. His writing style at times reminds me of a more humorous and darker C.S. Lewis, which is kinda cool. That's all.