Ok... I know what you're thinking, "THREE AND A HALF STARS?! For Coraline
?!!" But yes. 'Tis true.
It's not that I didn't like it; I did. Quite a bit. And as usual, Neil's reading of it was great, full of wonderful characters and fantastic storytelling. But there was just something about it that was kinda... I dunno. Not quite right?
There were times when I seriously wondered how old Coraline was meant to be. Is she meant to be a very smart 5 year old, or an average smart 9 year old? I could go both ways depending on the situation.
The story might've said what her age was, but I don't think so. I think knowing one way or the other would have been better, because I kept wondering whether the ease or struggle of each situation was realistic or not. Is it realistic for a 9 year old to not be able to reach the top of a fridge even standing on a chair? I guess it's possible, if she's very short, but much more realistic for a younger child. Would a 5 year old have interacted with the Beldam the same way? I don't know, but that seems like the actions of an older child.
This aspect kinda took me out of the story at inopportune times, and I would find myself wishing I could be sure. I thought of even going with a median age of 7... but that just didn't seem right either. Although, that's probably what Neil was going for and I'm just too dense to see it.
I did really enjoy the "Other" world and the darkness of the story. I really enjoyed Coraline's intelligence and wit and perseverance and poise in the face of danger. I really liked the Cat, although, as much as I love cats, and the character of the Cat, I thought it was again unrealistic. Real cats take no interest in the piddly life or death affairs of humans. Now if it were a dog that had helped Coraline, that would have been believable. Dogs are friendly and helpful. Cats are selfish jerks who don't give two tinkles in the litterbox about humans. They know it, and we know it, and they know we know it, and it amuses them to no end that they know we know that they know and yet we still try to cuddle them and make them love us with promises of food and treats. That's their game.
Anyway... This was an enjoyable story, and I definitely recommend it for those looking for something fun and short.