Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Rating: **** (4 out of 5)

Review: Coraline is a girl who loves exploring, and spends the days in her vacations trying to fill her time with interesting things, and failing. Her parents never seem to have time or patience to play with her, and she is baffled by the way adults never seem to really hear what she has to say. One day she finds a door that opens into a brick wall, and when she goes back to explore it, the brick wall has disappeared and in its place is a tunnel, and in the other side of the tunnel, her other mother waits for her, with black buttons instead of eyes…

This is a short and lovely story, with creepy undertones, which is very much what I expected from Neil Gaiman (and that’s a good thing). Once again, it had me wishing his children’s book had been available when I was growing up. I’m sure I would have loved Coraline even more.

Recommended for both adults and children.

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere by Mike Carey

Rating: **** (4 out of 5)

Review: Richard Mayhew is just your average person with an average job, who allows himself to be gently (and not so gently) pushed around by pretty much everyone and everything in his life. When he stops to help an injured young lady named Door, who comes from London Below, a sort of parallel city that exists beneath and connected to London, his life changes.

This is the graphic adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel. I admit, after reading this I wish I had read the original novel first. I loved the story, and the settings were beautifully depicted, but I was left feeling like something was missing, and the story could have benefited from a slower pace.

Still, this is a lovely book and I recommend it, specially if you’re read the original novel before.

Dustcovers: The Collected Sandman Covers 1989-1996 by Dave McKean

Rating: ***** (5 out of 5)

Review: A book about the wonderful work of Dave McKean for the Sandman comics. There really isn’t much else to say – if you love Dave McKean’s artwork you will love this book. Each cover has a story, and all the little details will have you stare at the images for a long time. It’s interesting to see how his work evolved over the years, and the commentary from both the artist and Neil Gaiman (who also wrote a short story for the book) is funny and insightful.

Definitely worth it if you’re a Sandman fan. If you’re not, I’m sure you’ll be interested in checking it out after you read this book.

Sandman: The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman

Rating: ***** (5 out of 5)

Background: I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series. I came across the more recent, graphic novel retelling of this book first, and while it appealed to me, it was nothing compared to what I experienced when I looked at the original version. The cover is absolutely beautiful, golden and luminous without being kitschy.

Review: It all begins with a wager between a badger and a fox. In a Japanese mountainside, there was a little temple, hardly visited by anyone anymore, and in it lived a monk. The fox and the badger wanted this temple for a den, and decided that whoever got the monk to abandon it would win it. But the monk wasn’t easily deceived, and somewhere along the way, the fox falls in love with him. And so begins a tale of love, sadness and sacrifice.

I don’t know why this book had such a strong effect on me. It’s a simple but lovely story which reminded me of old fables, albeit filled with much more sadness and subtlety than usual. But I found myself being only able to read it very slowly, a few pages at a time, to let it sink in.

The illustrations played a big role. In fact, even though I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, Yoshitaka Amano’s art is what made this book truly shine (in more than one way). It’s beautiful, with an incredible use of color and monochrome, and whimsical lines.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not familiar with the Sandman storyline, as this falls outside of it, but if you are, you’ll be able to appreciate the little details much more.

I can’t recommend this enough.

What’s Next: The second volume of the Absolute Sandman series is waiting for me on the shelf.

I though I would have finished this last friday, to end my Comic Book Reading Week with a flourish, but this book ended up needing more time than I though it would to go properly through, and real life also got in the way, with little time (or mental effort) for me to dedicate to reading. Next up will be at least one book about Photography, in preparation for university next month.

Book Video: Neil Gaiman discusses The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman discusses promoting and writing The Graveyard Book. He carried out readings and Questions & Answers for each chapter, and afterward posted videos of them on the web, free of charge, while selling the book. It is a testament both to Mr. Gaiman’s popularity and the effectiveness of this somewhat frowned upon way of promoting (giving parts of it, or in this case pretty much all of it, away for free to spark people’s interest in it) that the book still sold very well, staying on the New York Times bestseller list for months. And with good reason, in my opinion. You can read the review I posted a while ago on Goodreads here.

It’s also fascinating to hear the author talk about the book, what made him want to write it, where his ideas came from, and inspirations.