Book Review: Coraline

4 Min Read

Tanzina Tabassum Nova

“Because,” Coraline said, “When you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.” 

What is your biggest fear? Many, I think, if not most, would reply that it is the fear of losing their near ones. Coraline is a story where a girl lost her parents and set out to find them.  

Coraline Jones was a little girl, who moved to a new house with her parents. Her school was closed, and her parents were always busy making her constantly bored. On a dull day, Coraline attempted to discover the secret behind the locked door in their drawing room. She found a corridor that led her to a house that was almost an exact replica of her own house. She met her ‘other mother’ and ‘other father’ there. They looked like Coraline’s parents, but, instead of eyes, they had big black buttons. They tried to keep Coraline with them as their daughter. They wanted to change her and make her like them. Coraline came back home and found her real parents were missing. She realised that it was now up to her to save her parents, herself, and her ordinary life. 

I loved reading every bit of Coraline. Though this is a children’s book, Gaiman does not sugarcoat anything to suit to the young readers’ age. He keeps it real and scary. The story is so creepy at times that it can even scare any adult. Gaiman is a magician with words, and that is evident in this story, too.  

In my opinion, the message that this book tries to convey is to appreciate what we have. There are so many things in our lives that we tend to take for granted. When we lose them, we realise that even the littlest things have some values. Coraline was bored in her regular life, with her parents. However, after losing her parents and her normal life, she started to appreciate them. This made her try to restore everything back to normal. 

Coraline is also a story of courage. Coraline was terrified of her ‘other mother’ and the world she had created. Still, she managed to stay calm, and did the thing that had to be done. I think this is what Coraline is all about, doing the right thing, no matter what. 

No one could have said it better than Gaiman himself:

“I’d wanted to write a story for my daughters that told them something I’d wished known when I was a boy: that being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. Being brave means you are scared, really scared, badly scared, and you do the right thing anyway.

So now, ten years later, I’ve started running into women who tell me that Coraline got them through hard times in their lives. That when they were scared they thought of Coraline, and they did the right thing anyway.

And that, more than anything, makes it all worthwhile.”      

I hope we can all be like Coraline and have the courage to do the right thing at the right time. 


Tanzina Tabassum Nova is a full-time couch-potato, and a part-time reader, writer, translator, and reciter.

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