Book Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

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A photo of a page in Brian Selznick’s “The Hugo Movie Companion: A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture”

 

Reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick was an experience that mimicked that of an unfolding film reel, as the illustrations clearly guide the reader along the adventure Hugo goes on, from the opening right to the end of the book. It was, in a sense, a very three dimensional cinematic experience brought about by the very 2D pages of a book.

One of the main appeals the book has are the very beautifully done illustrations throughout that allows the story to progress with minimal texts — if anything, the book has the fewest amount of words in any book I’ve ever read that aren’t mainly directed at preschoolers or toddlers. It was a fresh take on literature and it was definitely something worthy to note.

From the very first page, we are introduced to the main setting of the book, not through a descriptive paragraph, but through images that transport us from a typical cinematic opening in a film that flies above a whole city, straight to the main character. The story then unravels from there and readers are given a glimpse into the fantastically engaging world of Hugo Cabret and the other characters he shares his world with; the somewhat bitter and cantankerous Georges Méliès, thrill-seeking Isabelle, and the encouraging René Tabard are just some of the few colorful characters in Hugo’s world. A simple story filled with intricate details found all over the place, Selznick’s tale is one that delights and brings inspiration to readers.

With the book inspired by the real-life Georges Méliès, it paints a true picture of magical wonder that early film contained that captivated the world the moment it was created — film has become such a major focal point in today’s culture that it is impossible to imagine today’s age without it. If anything, this book was an homage to early film and it rightly does so with justice.

All in all, I personally loved the book and it brought back my passion and zeal to create fiction.