Book Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hugo is an orphan child, living and working in a grand train station in Paris. He is the son of a clockmaker, and loves to tinker with mechanical things. He meets a bitter old man and a bookish little girl, and finds that he is not the only one struggling to make sense of his past losses.

This is a story told partly in words, partly in pictures, and with reference to the beginnings of the motion picture. It amazes me how the story encompasses so many mediums!
It’s a melancholy story about loss and heartbreak, but also about finding a family of your own and owning your past.

The best part of the story is the mystery of the mechanical man, an automaton, and the secrets that machinery hides. There’s a wonderful blending of the spiritual and physical in this book. Anything that you dream and imagine can become a reality, a tangible and visible thing; and vice versa, anything real can become a dream and have spiritual meaning beyond its simple existence.

I liked Hugo’s character, but was often frustrated with how he pushes people away, and how he is so doggedly stubborn sometimes. I feel like he doesn’t realistically use those street smarts of his. But he’s a very sweet and pathetic character, that you just want to hug and give him a cookie.

I didn’t like that the old man, George, is so mean and rude and selfish in the beginning. It made for a jarring change when he suddenly became nicer later on. Was it really necessary or in keeping with the story arc to make him such a villain at first? And his character change wasn’t gradual so that we could SEE the change in him. It was very sudden and weird. Also strange how Hugo suddenly trusts him at the end, after half a book of the old guy being horrible to Hugo!

Although I loved the book’s construction with all the pictures, I’m not amazed by this story. I still enjoyed it though!
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