Monday, December 12, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick
Evan’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Erin’s ESS =  out of 10
Content = (Minor Adult Content, Thieving, Secret Messages, Clocks)

“Maybe it’s the same with people,” Hugo continued.  “If you lose your purpose... it’s like you’re broken.”

Why: Two weeks ago we were entirely blind to this books existence.  And then, without warning, a 30 second preview of Martin Scorsese’s, Hugo appeared on our television.  We nearly lost consciousness and may or may not have temporarily choked on a popcorn kernel. 30 seconds later we found out that Hugo was a book (aren’t all great movies?) and about 30 minutes later we had place a hold on The Invention of Hugo Cabret at the library.

After a family tragedy, Hugo Cabret is left to survive on his own within the elaborate passages of a Paris train station.  His talent for fixing things allows him to maintain his secrecy by continuing his uncle’s profession as the official keep the clock’s working guy.  Unfortunately, an untimely encounter with a local toy maker throws his life upside down.  Hugo finds himself caught in a world of secrets, intrigue, and lost dreams.  To solve the mystery will require Hugo’s greatest fixit job yet.

Wow!  Really, wow, what a unique reading experience.  The novel is 533 pages long with 280ish pictures scattered throughout.  Who knew?  We certainly didn’t.  Admittedly, our experience with graphic novels is limited, but never before have we seen illustrations move a plot forward with such skill and seamlessness.  We loved the sequence of four pictures depicting Hugo fixing the mouse near the beginning of the story, especially the toy maker’s hands.  The train sequence at the end of the novel actually felt a little like the approaching train was... approaching.  Now, we realize we’re gushing a little bit here, but The Invention of Hugo Cabret surpassed our expectations.  Let us wipe the drool from our chin and then we’ll try to be a bit more professional...

Okay, the storyline wasn’t blow-your-stinking-mind-good.  Simple and charming are probably better labels.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret is about the power of secrets and dreaming big, which are only enhanced by the various drawings and illustrations.  The novel is also historical fiction and brought in real life movie director, Marie Georges Jean Méliés as a primary member of the cast.  His story was quite interesting and the stills from his movies were incredible.  Oops, we’re gushing again.   

In conclusion, the writing was solid, but what made The Invention of Hugo Cabret so memorable was the experience.  Next on our agenda: to experience the movie.  We hope it lives up to our lofty expectations!


  1. I had no idea whatsoever that Hugo was a book! LOL, thanks so much for this review, you just totally blew my mind :) I have to get myself a copy, like, NOW! :)

    Excellent review!!!

  2. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this one. Like you, I didn't think the plot was amazing. However, the reading experience was so unique that it made the book worth while.

    Word on the street is that the movie is fantastic. The National Board of Reviews named it the best film of 2012.

  3. I have been dying to do this book forever. My English Department is actually doing it in their curriculum. Very cool.

  4. This is certainly a book worth gushing over. And the story is, like you say, not outstanding, but the illustrations and the setting and the story make its sum more than its parts. Just a fabulous book! So excited for the movie.

  5. So happy to hear all the excitement over this book! We're very anxious to try some of his others books.

    Please let us know how the movie goes! We're trying to set up a date night ASAP...