Toss aside your assumptions about this book, especially if you have seen the movie. There is no Whybie, no doll, hell, it is not even set in America. The cat though, is still there, as are the other mother and ghost children. The neighbors are the same as well.
In the movie, Coraline's parents are inattentive, mean, lousy parents. In the book, Coraline is a spoiled, self important, bratty child. The parents are good, attentive, caring, and loving. Interesting how Hollywood can screw a book up. It was very difficult for my daughter to sit quietly through this one as she expected it to be just like the film.
The author wrote this or his daughter, but did not finish it right away. In fact, it took him an amazing amount of time. You can tell it was a feat of love. It is a good book. It is not my typical style, but I appreciated it for what it was and my girls did enjoy it.