Neil Gaiman, Coraline [audio book] (Harper Collins, 2002)

Like most children of a certain age, Coraline is somewhat dissatisfied with her life.  Her parents are dull and don’t pay enough attention to her, no one pronounces her name correctly, and -- most of all -- she’s bored!  For awhile, she’s able to content herself with exploring the extensive grounds surrounding her new home, but when the weather turns rainy and Coraline finds herself shut up indoors, her youthful curiosity will lead to more excitement than anyone would wish for.

I really think I got lucky because this audio book is, in fact, my first.  As an avid reader I’ve avoided them up to this point as a matter of principle but, read by the author himself, this unabridged audio version of Coraline qualifies as a must listen.  There are few experiences more pleasurably spooky than lying in a pitch black room, listening to Neil Gaiman’s dark, crisp voice relating this creepy but somehow elegant story.

Though I love listening to Gaiman’s oddly sexy voice, the musical accompaniment is another story.  When I put the first CD in my player, I was really, really worried that I was going to have to listen to 3 ½ hours of silliness from The Gothic Archies.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I found out there was very little of the weird -- and not the good kind of weird -- music.  I’d be the first to admit that I’m musically illiterate, but my ears know what they like, and this just isn’t it.  More importantly, it doesn’t seem to add anything to the story, but instead is just sort of meaninglessly tacked on to the start of each CD.

A cautionary tale with a moral similar to that of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Coraline doesn’t exactly break new ground, and I’m not sure that I would have found the printed version of this story to be remarkable.  The audio version, however, is well worth the price and listening time for children and adults age 10 and up.  Turn the lights off, put your headphones on, fast forward through the intro music, and I promise you’ll enjoy this dark fairy tale.

Here's a link Neil Gaiman’s official Web site.
Coraline has its own Web site here.
Naturally, GMR has also reviewed the print version of Coraline!