Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review - The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Before picking up The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I'd heard some general buzz and a quick high level overview of the plot…an orphan boy lives "in the walls" of a Paris train station fixing the clocks and trying to fix up a little robotic man. That was all I knew. I finally picked the book up at the bookstore and my initial reaction was "Wow…this is big." The book weighs in at over 500 pages. Knowing this was a children's book, this seemed a little daunting to me. What I didn't yet realize was that about half of the pages were filled with illustrations.

This book is split about 50/50 between illustration and text. The illustrations aren't just supplements to the text, but rather actually tell parts of the story. Thus the book is part novel, part picture book / graphic novel. I should also add that the illustrations are stunning and truly add to the book.

I absolutely LOVED this book. As I read, I found myself not wanting to put it down. And even before I had finished, I found myself gushing praise and recommending it to people. In the same way that this book straddles formats, I find myself having a hard time categorizing exactly what makes this book so enjoyable to me.

From a high level, the story is cute and entertaining but not so amazing or remarkable to warrant outrageous praise in itself. The art is fabulous. It shows great talent and certainly helps to invoke emotion. What stuck with me is the complex combination of beautiful images, simple yet lovely language, and a cute, emotional story.

The story and writing is humorous, fun and laced with intrigue and adventure. The art allows for both fast paced scenes of action and slower scenes charged with tension, love or other emotions. I had a lot of fun bounding around the train station with Hugo or following him through the streets of Paris.

Without adding any spoilers, I must say that I absolutely loved the larger story being told here and the way it all came together. The meta-story is further exemplified and enhanced by the artistic style and layout of the book in such a way that it made the larger story all the more real.

In the end, I felt like this book was an EXPERIENCE rather than just a book. I came away with a sense of awe and wonder that I haven't felt from a book in a long time. The art and the text wove an intricate spell that truly pulled me into the book and made everything seem real and amazing.

I will admit that this book will not be for everyone and certainly won't touch everyone in the same way that it touched me. If you are willing to let yourself go and be immersed in a children's book, you should enjoy this. If you're willing to remember the feelings and sensations of childhood, you may just find those emotions bubbling to the surface as you turn the pages here.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

5 out of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Not a spoiler, per se, but I thought you might enjoy the following youtube clip of a movie referenced a number of times in the book.

Today's Quote from Quoting Quotes:



Brian Miller said...

nice...have not read this yet...but now i experience...that i like...

Okie said...

Thanks Brian. I'll be interested to hear how you like it.