The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a children's novel in words and pictures by Brian Selznick.
I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't already found this gem. I'm a bit late to the party. But now the movie Hugo is coming out and my interest in the original book was renewed, so here I am!
It's 1931 in France and orphaned Hugo spends his days keeping the clocks at a Paris train station, determined to convince everybody that his Uncle is still around (he was the clock keeper) and not cause them to visit the small apartment he lives in by himself and find out her is without a guardian. He knows he'd be sent to an orphanage.
Sometimes going to an orphanage doesn't sound all that bad when Hugo struggles to find food and resorts to thievery, something he despises and knows his deceased father would have frowned upon. But going to an orphanage would wrench him from his last connection to his father - a mechanical man, an automaton that the two of them had been working on right up to the moment he died.
Hugo's whole life now seems to depend on fixing the automaton. This very secret ambition ends up interlocking with a bitter old man who runs a toy booth and an eccentric, book-loving girl. Hugo's anonymity has been endangered, but he can't change it.
The mystery of the automaton is beginning to unravel, with more secrets than he ever could have imagined. Hugo just hopes his life doesn't unravel along with it...
Wow. What an experience! The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a big, heavy novel with 284 pages of original drawings and an almost equal amount of pages of narrative. The gorgeous pencil drawings give an illusion of a black and white silent film - undeniably engrossing!
I can see why this novel won medals and praise! The actual words of The Invention of Hugo Cabret evoke a poignant, sad story brought to life as we follow a young, mourning orphaned boy in his fascinating quest to fix a mysterious automaton and delve into the secrets that Hugo hopes it holds.
The setup and layout of the book makes it feel special - which it is. The Invention of Hugo Cabret has a bit of steampunk flavor with great clockwork interest and a dash of adventure. It spurs the imagination, as well as the emotion, and sucks you in as the secrets pile up, secrets you want to explore along with Hugo.
There were quite a few "wow" moments. I was happily surprised at how considerably deep and mystery-drenched The Invention of Hugo Cabret is for both young, old, and in-between. I was utterly enchanted and held in it's unique grip.
Brian Selznick created quite an effective, breathtaking, heartfelt, amazing, and touching story!!! I look forward to his next novel (also using drawings in a narrative manner) Wonderstruck.
My one-of-a-kind experience with The Invention of Hugo Cabret also made me more intrigued by the movie version of it coming out this month, directed by Martin Scorsese. So, I also delved into The Hugo Movie Companion, which is also written by Brian Selznick.
Apparently Brian Selznick doesn't do anything halfway, because The Hugo Movie Companion is just as special and most definitely a great follow-up to the original novel. In it we get full-color photographs for the movie and detailed information and interviews with the cast and crew.
It somehow makes the book even richer as we're allowed to delve deeper into Selznick's inspirations. It really made me fascinated with automatons, which are (shockingly) real. It also allows us an interesting look into Scorsese's perspective, a man who is clearly passionate about Hugo - always a good thing for the fans of the book.
The Hugo Movie Companion has intriguing and fun insight into the makings of a movie with lots of details on props, sets, costumes, and actors. I really enjoyed reading it - and I think any fan of The Invention of Hugo Cabret would, whether they plan on watching the movie or not.
Now, I have to be honest here - as much as I adored both books, a few things in The Hugo Movie Companion stuck out to me. A few changes, if you will. As a hard-core bibliophile I have a hard time with movies cutting and changing the story as they transform it into a film. I understand some allowances have to be made for time, but some things just seems unnecessary. For one thing, I saw no mention whatsoever of Etienne, a vital if small character from The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Also, the Station Inspector is being portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen in a way that looks far more comedic than I imagined in the novel. Maybe I was wrong, but I never took the character that way in the book. I may be being picky, but those hints kind of bothered me. Not to mention that the end seems different, an end that I was incredibly touched by.
However, overall Hugo looks to be a beautiful representation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret on the big screen and I'll still probably check it out. In the meantime, both books are an excellent addition to any bibliophile's bookshelf!