I had interest in this book now for a while, though never took the plunge. I remember reading a brief description that didn’t go deep into the story, or the nature of the book, but it interested me. But it was in a recent trip to brother-in-law’s that it caught my attention. I saw he had a copy, and was shocked at the size of the novel (over 500 pages) knowing it was more geared to a young adult audience. I was also shocked to hear that he had read it in one sitting.
I then started thumbing through it and found an incredible amount of pictures. There was quite a bit of text, but at times those pages could be sparse. After he told me how much he liked it, I went out and bought it the following day.
Here is a plot description found on Amazon that is also sort of a review:
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-like the gears of the clocks he keeps-with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train 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. With more than three hundred pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning, cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.
New reading experience, stunning, and cinematic tour de force? Oh yes! It is a beautifully put together book. To have so much of the imagery because of the incredible art work (done like very intricate sketches) it was a delight to get a better view of what was happening. Given the excellent story and the wonderful drawings, it isn’t hard to imagine this as a movie.
Even though the book is a quick read (myself having polished it off in one day), the story is gripping. Maybe the drawings help draw the reader in. But the story is the key. Even if this had been a traditional novel and the scenes that were played out in the wonderful drawings were actually written, it still would have been a great story. The presentation through drawings adds so much to it, but the story is what leads the experience. And what a wonderful experience it is. With a mixture of childhood fantasy, historical fiction, and just plain good old mystery, it’s a fantastic story for all ages.