BOOK REVIEW: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

Released: April 1, 2007 (Scholastic)
Source: Library

Genre: YA Fantasy Graphic Novel

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Caldecott Honor artist Brian Selznick’s lavishly illustrated debut novel is a cinematic tour de force not to be missed!

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 with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the 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.

Why I Read This Book

When my husband and I watched the Oscars this past year, I remember seeing that Hugo, the movie based on this book, won so many awards. I recall it perfectly because I was cursing at the television, the award winners, specifically, who — not once! — thanked the author. This didn’t lead me to read the book right away, but it was always on the back of my mind. So, when I saw it just sitting there on the shelf of the library, I finally decided to snatch it up to see what the fuss was about.

My Thoughts

OK, I admit that when I took this book out from the library, I was worried that I wouldn’t like it. I thought it would be too young, or that I wouldn’t like the mix of words with drawings, or that I would get bored with it since it’s well over 500 pages long.

Boy, was I wrong! 

Immediately, I was entranced by this book. The main character, Hugo, was so refreshing! I loved that even though he lost his uncle, he still wanted to make sure the clock’s were wound and he was so concerned with no one knowing what happened. Though, he was still the typical orphan boy in stories — a perfect mix of sweetness and mischief. I loved his journey as he starts out as an orphan, to meeting the toymaker, Georges, and his granddaughter, Isabel.

Admittedly, I didn’t really know what this book was about when I started reading it, so when a mystery came in — with Hugo’s invention — I was hooked. I wanted to know more and I wanted to know it now! However, this is a book that you must read slowly, taking in every single bit of it.

Why, you ask?

It’s because of the amazing drawings! I didn’t think that so many drawings could be included in a story and not take away from it. I thought that there would be too many of them and it would be distracting. The wonderful thing, however, is that the pictures add so much to the story. Selznick is an amazing artist and the portions of artwork describe so much and are an awesome addition to the story. Once I finished reading, I couldn’t imagine the story without them. It amazed me how so much could be told in pictures — it wasn’t confusing at all!

Brian Selznick is definitely one wonderful artist. I loved the detail in all of the pictures — even the darkest pictures were full of detail. And there was so many of them in the book! I have so much respect for Selznick for taking so much time to form this book into such perfection. Sure, it might have worked to include a picture here and there, but it’s a great display of dedication to see the amount of work Selznick put into the book.

While I did really love the story, I did want some more descriptions — the whole thing flowed beautifully, but I wanted just a little more backstory, a little more description of the beautiful Paris scenery. Of course, this is an MG book, so it’s not going to be overly wordy. I guess when I think about it being for younger readers, it’s definitely a book that would keep their interest. For me, it really piqued my interest in Brian Selznick — I plan to check out more of his books, pronto!

This is one to read if you’re looking for something different to read. The mix of pictures and story works so well together — like a graphic novel, but not like a typical graphic novel. This is a book I highly recommend.

Read More Reviews

Lily’s Review
Alison’s Review
Heidi’s Review

© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.


13 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

  1. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick | Reading In Winter

    • I haven’t seen the movie! I just saw it getting a lot of awards at the Oscars. I had hubs turn it off, eventually, because no one was thanking Brian Selznick for creating the book in the first place.

      It’s a beautiful work of art!

  2. Pingback: Clock Rewinders (3) | Reading In Winter

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