Thursday, June 28, 2007

Book Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Jacob's Second Post)

Just so you realize it before the end of this post, this is not Alysa writing a post. I know she'll likely review this book, too, but I just finished it and wanted to give you my two cents about the book. "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" does not fall easily into any sort of book classification. The book is an interesting mixture of pictures and text, both necessary to telling the story. For example, the book opens with a brief introduction by a Professor H. Alcofrisbas and then launches into a series of pictures that serve the same purpose as an opening shot in a movie. We slowly zoom in on the train station where Hugo lives and begin following him, entering his world. In fact, after the introduction, there isn't any more text until you reach page 46 of the book. This means that even though the book is over 500 pages long, it is a fairly quick read. The story deals with the beginning of the movie industry in France, and the inclusion of the illustrations adds greatly to the story. In fact, there are even some stills from old black and white movies that make it into the book and help in telling the story. In some ways, the pictures help to give the book the feel of a movie, which fits in very well with the plot. (For example, there is a chase scene toward the end of the book told entirely by pictures that has the feel of a traditional Hollywood chase scene.)

The unique style in which the story is told does not distract from the story, however. It is very well crafted, with plenty of twists and turns in the plot. The characters are developed equally through the text and illustrations, and Hugo Cabret truly is invented through the development of his character throughout the story. There is one particularly touching scene where Hugo and Isabelle (the main female character) are discussing how machines are all built for a specific purpose. They then speculate that people might be the same way and think about what their purpose in life might be. I thought it was a very cool idea.

All in all, this was a great story. There are elements of Greek mythology and early cinema wrapped up into a wonderful story including machinery, clockwork, and an eye patch. It sounds muddled, but it works. I highly recommend it.


Ransom said...

Intrigue, romance, and coming of age in 1930s Paris.

Would it be ironic if someone made a movie out of it?

Alysa said...

I pretty much second everything that Jacob has said in the book review. I just finished it today -- it's a remarkably quick read. I would definitely recommend it for almost all ages (5+). It would be a fun one to read with a kid on your lap, or just by yourself.