temporaryworlds (temporaryworlds) wrote in bookish,

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#82 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Hugo Cabret lives within the walls of a Paris train station. Since the death of his uncle, he has taken over the job of keeping all the clocks running. When no one is looking, he spends his time fixing a broken automaton. But this life requires him to steal to live, and when one act of thievery goes wrong one of Hugo's most precious possession is taken from him, a notebook containing drawings from his deceased father. In order to earn back his notebook, he must work for the old man who sells toys at the train station. Only he soon discovers that the old man has secrets of his own.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a fascinating book, thanks to its unique format. It would be fair to call it a graphic novel, but what it really is is a mix of both picture book and novel. The novel begins with a series of pictures, each taking up a double page spread, growing larger and larger until they take up the whole page. It's through these pictures that we first get to know Hugo Cabret. The story then switches to text, and alternates back and forth between pictures and text depending on the story. It's interesting that I would choose to read this after finishing The Amulet of Samarkand: The Graphic Novel, as one major issue I had with that is it's inability to let the pictures tell the story. This is not an issue here at all. Selznick really knows how to let the pictures tell the story. And the illustrations, all which are black and white, are gorgeous and filled with character. Hugo's world really comes alive with these images.

Admittedly, the quality of the writing is not quite on par with the quality of the illustrations, as sometimes it can feel a little choppy. But this ultimately ends up not being a huge issue as the story told here is so fascinating. As Hugo strives to discover the secret of the automaton, he ends up discovering the secrets of the old man who works the toyshop. The story brings us into the world of classic French cinema, a topic that I did not know a lot about until picking up this book. Hugo's ally on this journey as a young girl named Isabelle. It's fun to watch as the originally distrustful Hugo learns to let her in.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a truly original work. This novel, marketed for middle grade readers, will likely find fans in the young adult crowd as well. I really enjoyed the mixture of illustrations and text and the story was enjoyable as well. After finishing this I discovered that Selznick has written another book in the style called Wonderstruck. I know I will be trying this book out as well.

Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 533 pages
Source: Readfield Community Libraey
Other books I've read by this author: this is my first

Next I will be reviewing Kitty's Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn and The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh.

Xposted to temporaryworlds, bookish, and goodreads
Tags: xxx author last name: r-z

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