The thing that I love about Neil Gaiman is that his writing is effectively creepy and disturbing, and yet, manages to have a tone of hopefulness in all of that darkness. It’s extremely more apparent in his children’s books than the adult novels (and much more than his short stories), and part of the reason why I love his books.Coraline’s the kind of book that would have freaked me out if I had read it when I was seven or eight (still wigged me out pretty bad when I first read it a few years ago), but I would have liked it because Coraline’s such a relatable character. She’s a normal little girl who’s not enchanted with staying inside all day and wants to see more of her new home. I like the fact that while Coraline’s precocious, she’s not terribly annoying—it does feel that way at times whenever she complains about having nothing to do, but when you look at the fact that she’s just moved in to this house, with no other kids, I can see why she’s frustrated with all of the adults around her. She’s also intelligent without feeling like a smarty know-it-all. Coraline doesn’t know exactly what the beldam is or what she entirely wants (although a few other characters glean that information), but she’s willing to fight for her family even if she doesn’t know everything. Yes, there are parts when things feel like Coraline gets handed plot points—such as the seeing stone—but she has to work and figure out how to use said plot points in her quest. I love how she ultimately defeats the beldam in the end with the fake tea party (although the rabid cat throw was pretty awesome too). I’ve heard a lot of criticism regarding Coraline’s parents—for example, my aunt said she felt they were neglectful to the point of questionability. I don’t see that. If you honestly never got ignored by work-at-home parents at all, then good on you and your childhood. But the fact that Coraline’s parents are distracted with work and their recent move, it feels more realistic and helps move Coraline in her growing up. As for the other side characters, I generally really like them. Ms. Forcible and Spink are two of my favorites, in all of their kookiness, but you see that they do care about Coraline in a neighborly, dotty-aunt type fashion. Mr. Bobo doesn’t really show up that often to grow into his own character, but I like him all the same. (And I love the line regarding him at the end: “Honestly, how many chances do you get to say the name ‘Mr. Bobo’ out loud?”) And the ghost children are fantastic, for the little that they show up in the book. And the cat. Just…the cat.This is just a creepy, enjoyable read. I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone, but it’s still a lot of fun and manages to speak to anyone, no matter how old they are.