Book of the Month: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Book of the Month: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Brian Selznick

Blurb: Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hug 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 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 284 pages of original drawings, and combing 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.

Cover Review: It's plain, simple, and asking for you to open it and unlock its secrets. The part that really hints at what's inside is the circle of gears with the lock on the front. The warm colors around the outside contrast nicely with the cool blue inside. Beautiful.

My Thoughts

Plot: Magic, mystery, movies, and more! This plot has it all. It's simple in places and complex in others. The story moves along quickly, with just the right amount of tension and relaxation. Though it can seem a bit impersonal (we don't really get to look in Hugo's head much) I think that's because it's told in a cinematic style.

Characters: Hugo is obviously the main character. He's an orphan boy and an amazing horologist (clock-maker). Other characters include Isabelle and Georges Melies, the revolutionary filmmaker. The children fight a lot, but in the end they join forces.

World: It takes place in 1930's Paris. The setting is mostly displayed through pictures and you feel transported back in time. It also has a slightly steampunk vibe, with the automatons and trains, but it's actually considered historical fiction.

Other: Um, over half of this 500 page books is pictures. How many book full of beautiful pencil sketches do you know? The artwork is amazing and plays out just like a movie, which was the author's intent. The story flows effortlessly from pictures to words and back without losing the narrative. It also has several pictures from actual films.

My Rating:

The Movie

If you like the book, you should try the movie as well. In fact, some people actually watch the movie first, then find the book. Because the book is drawn in such a cinamatic style, they were able to copy most of it exactly to the screen. Yes, they added a bit more to the plot, but on the whole they did a great job.

It also has an amazing cast that look almost exactly like the illustrations. Ben Kingsly as Georges (he looks like a doppelganger for the actual man), Asa Butterfield as Hugo, and Chloe Grace Mortez as Isabelle. The music is written by Howard Shore and is another great soundtrack for writing.

Let's talk! Have you read Hugo, or watched the movie? Which was your favorite? Tell me in the comments.


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