The Invention of Hugo Cabret

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The Invention of Hugo CabretBrian Selznick
Genre: Adventure, Middle Grade

RATING: ★★★★★

Goodreads page

This was a very lovely read and exactly what I needed right now. I’ve read one of Selznick’s other books, Wonderstruck, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret was most definitely at par, if not better, than that. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Brian Selznick’s books, I’ll explain a little about the format that they take. The stories are made up of a combination of words and sketchy-pencil effect illustrations which is essentially like an unconventional graphic novel. In this particular novel, we follow Hugo, a 12 year old boy in Paris, 1931 who lives with his mean Uncle Claude who has him help with the changing of the 27 clocks of the train station twice a day. However, Hugo doesn’t really mind doing this as it gives him the opportunity to play around with the cogs and gears that help to feed his inventive brain that he inherited from his father. The only remnant of his father that Hugo possesses is his notebook so when a cruel old toy-shop owner takes it off him, Hugo works hard to get it back, discovering an awful lot along the way.

Selznick created a wonderfully inspiring book that was great to take from the middle grade genre. I don’t want to discuss the plot too much because that would take away from the true experience however, one thing I will say is that I felt as though I was right beside Hugo the whole way through. I don’t know if that’s because of the calm, effortless writing or the integration of illustrations that painted the scene so beautifully but it was very enriching to immerse myself into the life of a wise little boy. That was something that astounded me about Hugo: his wisdom. Forced to be independent and grow up so young made me feel like I was reading about a boy of 20, not 12. There was a particular point that really stood out to me on page 378 where Hugo was talking to his friend, Isabelle, about the world being a machine, in the way that there is a purpose for everyone and everything. This was just one of the many moments where I had to close the book for a second and take in these inspirational words; I’d like to say I truly learned something from this book about appreciation and perseverance.

As with Hugo, all the other characters in the book were intriguing and developed. Isabelle, a friend of Hugo’s and the god-daughter of the mean old toy-shop owner, formed a truly endearing relationship with Hugo that allowed her to act wise beyond her years too. We discover a lot about her in the second part, answering questions that were posed near the start which is a very engrossing technique. The bitter old man, that we later learn is ‘Papa Georges’ to Isabelle, was an equally complex character. Upon reflection, one of the greatest elements to the book is that the first impressions of everybody diminish by the end of the novel, as each and every one of them emerge to reveal the sincerity of themselves, which acts as an important lesson alone to not make snap judgements.

Overall, this was a real joy to read. I am conscious that I’ve somewhat swerved from details to do with the plot but I wanted to discuss the concept more so that you can enter the book as blind as can be, as I did, because I think it helped to contribute to my overall satisfaction with the novel. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll know I read a wide range of books therefore, just because middle grade might not be your most-read genre, it doesn’t mean this book doesn’t have something to offer. Sometimes you take more from a book that you’d rarely think of and this is a perfect example. For that reason, I’d encourage anyone to read this. It’s easy and quick to read (it probably took me about 2 hours to complete) but that’s not to say it won’t leave a lasting impression because I learned enough from the story to know I’ll remember it for a long time. Be sure to flick through it at a bookshop first if you’re not quite sure and allow yourself to be captivated by easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I’ve ever come across. What’s more, you get a film to watch afterwards too which is always a bonus. *gets up Hugo movie in a new tab*

– – – – – – – – POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Update – – – – – – – –
A book set in Europe 
A book you can finish in a day 

Happy Reading Bookworms!

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4 thoughts on “The Invention of Hugo Cabret

  1. Hugo is easily my favourite book! I love the way Selznick weaves together text an illustrations to create highly original ways of telling stories. The movie is lovely too 🙂 Have you had a chance read The Marvels? It’s brilliant 😀

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      • Isn’t it?! I recently wrote a post on all the silent film references. The amount of detail in the movie is really mind-blowing.

        I loved The Marvels because of the innovative approach to storytelling and the complex line it draws between truth and fiction, but I can understand why you found the story less exciting. I’m super interested to know what Selznick is currently working on 😀

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