Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck

Last fall, I was in the bookstore and saw a huge stack of signed copies of Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. I hadn't heard of the book, nor had I read his other well known book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I caved and bought Wonderstruck, because the cover was beautiful and the blurb mentioned the 1920s.

I didn't read it until recently, and it sat on my shelf for months. I finally decided to read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, because the movie previews I saw fascinated me and it looked like it would be a quick read.

I'm doing a joint review of these two books, as I read them in such quick succession.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret centers around a boy, Hugo, who has been orphaned and lives in a train station repairing the clocks in the station and repairing an automaton his father discovered. He befriends the goddaughter of the toy seller in the train station and discovers this man may be a famous filmmaker.

Wonderstruck intertwines the story of a young girl in 1920s New York/New Jersey and a boy living in Grand Marais, Minnesota 50 years later. Ben, the boy, has lost his mother, and after finding a note and address in a book about museums, he makes his way to New York to find his father.

Both of these books are works of art. Melznick uses illustration to not just supplement the text, but to serve as part of the text. In Wonderstruck, the story of the girl is only told through pictures and in Hugo, the illustrations take the place of the written word. The illustrations are beautiful and really add to the overall story.

Melznick obviously does his research in regards to both books. I loved the exploration of film history in Hugo and the dwelving into Minnesota in Wonderstruck. When he does deviate from history, it's obviously deliberate. I am somewhat of a loss for words in regards to both books. They were both beautiful and Melznick captures nostalgia so well. I was probably more moved by Wonderstruck, because it has a Minnesota connection, though I loved Hugo Cabret, as well.

These are both amazing and moving works of art.

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