"Coraline" continues my love affair with Neil Gaiman's books on audio. I love his voice so much. It's soothing but also keeps my mind focused on the story. I think that he endows his words with all the emphasis, power and creative energy they should have. He's really great with different voices as well. "Coraline" might be a short book on audio, but it's so rich and fulfilling.
I freely admit I had ghoulish tastes in books when I was a girl. I read every scary or dark fantasy novel in the children's section, and some multiple times (The Gruesome Green Witch I'm looking at you!). I would have loved this book if it had been written when I was a young girl. It's nicely scary and intense, but also suitable for a child (and adults like me). The "Other Mother" seethes with menace, and the use of subtle details (like her button eyes, penchant for eating beetles, and hair that waves as though a breeze is blowing although it isn't.) There are even gruesome touches, such as the fact that some of the inhabitants of the world the "Other Mother" created are barely formed, gelatinous blobs. I agree with another reviewer who said that they admired how brave Coraline was (and she's brave in the real sense, doing something in spite of her fears). She's really an awesome young girl (but also realistic in her flaws).
I think that Gaiman has a sense of childhood that has not faded with his age. He understands the joy and the disappointments of it. Coraline is a young girl surrounded by adults, and that's a tough situation. She seethes with physical and mental energy, and while appropriate in development for her age, she's also mature and capable of taking care of herself to a degree. But like any other child, she yearns for the love and attention of parents who care about her. Luckily, she is able to see through the "Other Mother" and realizes that her parents are exactly what she needs and not a figment of her imagination with a menace beneath the wish fulfillment.
I would have to give this one 4.5 stars because it doesn't quite meet the high standards of The Graveyard Book in comparison. But it really is an outstanding book. The movie is pretty good, if you get a chance to watch it. I saw it first, and I plan to re-watch it and compare it since I watched it years ago and I'm just now reading the book.
If you can get this on audio, I highly recommend it.