Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

book 12 of 12 for the Young Adult 2008 Challenge
book 4 of 6 for the Classics Challenge

rating: 5/5
genre: children's literature/young adult/graphic novel??

I had no idea of what to expect with this book - just that people whose opinions I valued LOVED it. I have joined their camp.

What can I call it? An illustrated mystery novel? A graphic novel with many full pages of text? Whatever you want to call it, Selznick's story takes us back to Paris in the 1930s and we meet Hugo, an mechanically inclined 12 year old who lives in a train station. After several pages of only text, we'll suddenly be learning all we need to know about Hugo by looking at pencil drawn pictures: the important friends he makes and the adventures he has. I love how as soon as the pictures were over, the text took off right where the illustrations ended.

The story is full of secrets. Who is the toyseller, really? What is the mechanical man hiding within his gears? Where did Hugo's bookish friend Isabelle get that key? The mysteries truly caught my attention and I wanted to know the answers. Beyond the mystery, woven throughout the book is the mystical atmosphere of early French films and their impact on the world's imagination.

Hugo is a conflicted and lonely character. I loved watching him learn to trust and come into his own talents. In his own words:

I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason too.

The pacing was great for a mystery - new details were constantly being revealed and I just really enjoyed that I had no experience with the world where this book took me. I was learning and seeing completely new things that were wound into a complex and interesting story. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a truly unique literary experience that shouldn't be missed.


Tricia said...

I agree. This was one of my favorite reads last year. Glad you loved it too!

Trish said...

I've heard such glowing things about this book that I'm going to have to try it. Now that I've finally broken the barrier to graphic literature with Persepolis I'm not quite as resistant anymore. :) Thanks for the intriguing review!

Joy said...

I enjoyed this one too, Corinne.

Kya said...

This was recommended at our family book group at the local library but we didn't have time to read it. Glad you enjoyed it.

Cami said...

This looks great! I'll have to check it out.

Framed said...

I've never tried graphic novels, but this one will be my first.

morninglight mama said...

This was fantastic, wasn't it? JAM and I both loved this book, and although we did read it separately, we've been chatting about it off and on for the last few days. Such a new medium for a book-- it was a movie come to life in the pages of a book! :)

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