Book Club: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The_Invention_of_Hugo_CabretThis Book Club post is a little late, because I was trying to get hold of a copy of the book. It was that rare occasion on which I hadn’t read this month’s title, though not for lack of trying. Normally I would order the book on my e-reader, but with this one, I knew that wouldn’t be an option. I tried the library, but it was permanently on loan. So I settled on the idea that I had seen the film adaptation – a poor substitute, I know, but at least I could join in the conversation and no one could spoil the ending for me.

The book is question was The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, and the blurb says it all – Orphan, clock keeper and thief, twelve-year-old 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 with an eccentric girl and the owner of a small 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 all come together…in The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

It is a long book (526 pages), but is more pictures than words, something which people said they thought would be annoying and a little disjointed, but which actually didn’t matter at all. There was a seamless flow between several pages with no words at all followed by several where the story is picked up in dialogue and description. As described on the wonderful website, www.theinventionofhugocabret.com, it is not exactly a novel, and it’s not quite a picture book, and it’s not really a graphic novel, or a flip book, or a movie, but a combination of all these things.

It’s easy to see how this visual book made such a good movie, though those who had both seen it and read it said the book was much better (naturally). As someone who has seen the film, I really liked the true to life aspect of the character of Georges Méliès, a film maker from the 1890’s to the 1920’s, who made many films in the early days of the art, including the world’s first science fiction film. The illustrations in the book, from what I have seen, perfectly capture the look and feel of the time in which the book is set, and these early explorations into film making.

 

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