Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Books Completed: 53
Completion Date: April 3, 2007
Publication Year: 2007
Pages: 544
Purchased in 2007

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks-like the gears of the clocks he keeps-with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

With more than three hundred pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning, cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.
I am so relieved that I bought and read this book in one day without paying any attention to the hype surrounding it. I was in Costco, planning to buy the new Oprah selection because I had heard good things and they had it there for half price. I had it in my hands, and then I was browsing and found this. It was quite simply something different with the combination of writing and drawings, and I just felt the need for something different. So, back down when The Road, and home with me came this book. I had it finished by the time I went to bed that night.

I will not say that this is the best read of 2007. I will not say that it absolutely blew my mind. It is not for me to say those things. For starters, it is only the beginning months of 2007, not the end ones. It is too early to say what the best book of 2007 is. As to blowing my mind, it is a book about a little orphan boy who lives in a train station. His father died tragically, leaving him to an alcoholic uncle who has interest in the boy only to help him with his work. Then, his uncle dies and he is left alone in the world. You feel bad for the kid, and you understand why he has to steal once in a while to get what he needs. He has been taking care of the clocks so that his presence will not be noticed, but he is still just a boy and very alone in the world.

I just liked the different medium. People have said that the writing was not great compared to the breath-taking drawings. I think the writing is on par considering that the pictures are supposed to tell the story as well. I really enjoyed the pictures. I thought they were very well done, and very nice to look at. People have said that they should not count towards page numbers read, well, I disagree. They are as much a part of the story as the writing. I took a course in university on fairy tales and it included picture books and looking at pictures. They are just as important as writing, in my opinion.

I will not say that this is the best book ever, but I will say that it is a very interesting method to write a book and that it was an interesting experience. It is perfect for something different, and I think that it is enjoyable. Plus, the drawings are amazing.



  1. Sounds like a great little book. Onto the wishlist it goes ;)

  2. I always count illustrations as pages read. :)

  3. Great review. I've been very tempted to pick it up and now I probably will.

  4. I heard this book reviewed on NPR a while back and was surprised that the grumpy old man was really George Melies, a magician and filmmaker who made the first science fiction film!

    Here is a link to the review.

  5. I almost bought this but couldn't ratonalise it as I have so many YA. However I may now do so when it beomes tradebacked.***CV


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