Soooo I didn't really like it until approximately page 500. I don't know, I guess there was too much going on and it was hard to get attached to the c...moreSoooo I didn't really like it until approximately page 500. I don't know, I guess there was too much going on and it was hard to get attached to the characters. However, I'm really glad I stuck it out because once something clicked for me I really enjoyed it. I have since gone back and done a re-read of it to catch all the details I missed in the beginning when I wasn't paying full attention. I really like the diversity and complexity in the characters and the storyline is great.(less)
SO GOOD. I love a book with a unique narration style. The writing is fantastic, the characters are deep and realistic. For once I am completely satisf...moreSO GOOD. I love a book with a unique narration style. The writing is fantastic, the characters are deep and realistic. For once I am completely satisfied with things not turning out to be too "picture perfect" or predictably. Definitely recommend for anyone, anywhere. keep your tissues handy.(less)
This book was definitely different from anything else I've read. The narrator is a ghost, telling the story retrospectively from 1 million years in th...moreThis book was definitely different from anything else I've read. The narrator is a ghost, telling the story retrospectively from 1 million years in the future. How many other stories have narrators like that? It was interesting, it made me think. I don't really think any of the characters were necessarily likeable, though that didn't detract from the story. I didn't give it five stars because it jumped around a lot and a few random parts weren't that interesting... and I didn't feel compelled to pick it up and keep reading after I put it down. I did have to force myself to pick it up a few times, though once I got started it kept my attention.(less)
I thought this book was really interesting stylistically. I like to read historical fiction more than I like reading history textbooks so this novel w...moreI thought this book was really interesting stylistically. I like to read historical fiction more than I like reading history textbooks so this novel was very informative for me. However, I did get kind of bored halfway through. When I finally did continue reading it, I didn't mind it, but I wasn't inspired to pick it up and start reading. By the end it felt like a chore more than a choice. But I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in this period or historical fiction.(less)
**spoiler alert** I thought this book was fabulous. It's the first hybrid part graphic novel/part novel i've ever seen. It was really cool how the dra...more**spoiler alert** I thought this book was fabulous. It's the first hybrid part graphic novel/part novel i've ever seen. It was really cool how the drawings weren't illustrations to the words, they were independent parts of the story. The drawings were also incredible. I noticed that many of the pictures often only showed one eye on a person's face, which I just thought was interesting. I thought the story was wonderfully crafted and intricate, I loved how all the little pieces ended up fitting together (what an appropriate metaphor, right?). I think the title is really crafty too because it works in many ways. The story ended up not only being about someone's invention but the invention and discovery Hugo makes of himself. I think for a lot of the novels I've mentioned specific connections kids could make to their own lives with the stories… but with this novel I think that plays a lesser part in drawing interest. I think that the suspense and intricately crafted world of Hugo's has the lure in this instance. I like that the book is split up into different parts. After each one I tried to guess what would happen next and I usually wasn't right. There is some foreshadowing- I figured out "Papa Georges" was a magician before they showed us, but many of the other twists and turns were cleverly hidden. I think this novel is a really good example of what can be accomplished with graphic novels. I thought the images were just as effective as the words. The scene when Hugo is running from the station inspector was so suspenseful, I had to fight with myself to flip through the pages of pictures of Hugo running to flip fast because I wanted to know what happened but slow because I wanted to admire the drawings. The drawings are so expressive! The story also uses several motifs that can be explored and discussed such as dreams, the moon, a train, and time/clocks. There are so many little great details about this book that make it wonderful. I thought it was interesting how the introduction asked you to imagine the opening scene as a movie, and then drew it out for you. Then, I had forgotten about it. But the ending makes it clear just how and why the author began the story that way. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would love to be able to use it in a classroom with students. But for now, I'll deal with lending it to a friend immediately. (less)
**spoiler alert** I had mixed feelings about this book. I really loved parts of it, but then there were parts that were dissatisfying as well. I'll st...more**spoiler alert** I had mixed feelings about this book. I really loved parts of it, but then there were parts that were dissatisfying as well. I'll start with the things I didn't like.
The first thing that bugged me was the inconsistent styles used. The first couple of times that it changed from a regular narration to something else, I really didn't think it worked. That was when all of a sudden the format of conversation resembled instant messaging. I was just confused. Was that supposed to be like an excerpt from their online conversations? It especially didn't work for me if that was the case, because no one's instant messaging conversations look like that. The paragraphs were too long, too properly formatted, and too thought out. The next time, with the two columns next to each other about Debbie and Lenny at the same time I thought was kind of interesting, but i was kind of disappointed that they didn't match up at the exact same line as far as length of the whole thing. I guess though, that could symbolize that they kind of missed the moments with each other. So maybe it did work. I guess I would accept that argument.
The next thing I didn't like was that sometimes the conversations just seemed like conversations that would never happen in the way they were described. The situation that stands out to me as the worst with this is when Debbie is sitting on the roof with Rowanne and Debbie just starts pouring her guts out about theories about love and the whole story about her piano teacher. I thought it sounded genuine in that it could be her thought process in her mind, but it just really didn't feel like something anyone would actually say out loud to their friend's older sister who they didn't know very well. Like on that show the Gilmore Girls, everyone was always talking in these long drawn out over-exaggerated speeches that sounded so scripted and perfect that they were unbelievable. (I've only seen a handful of episodes of that show, just in case I got it wrong.)
The last thing I didn't like was the pictures. I again, was unhappy with the inconsistency of the images' styles. Sometimes I felt they were unnecessary and even took away from some of the imagination of the story. I just don't think they added to the story.
Now on to what I did like: I really enjoyed the story overall. I think it had a genuine feel for the most part, excluding what I previously complained about. Part of what made it so genuine were all the little situations that were built up to almost occur but never did. Things in this story kept not working out. In the very beginning of the novel, I assumed Hector and Debbie were star-crossed lovers destined to be together- because that's how most novels go with the first two main characters mentioned that are looking for love, right? And sure enough, they had their moment right away outside of the truck when he spun her around after she steps on his shoe. But then they never make it together! There are other little moments they have but that's it. The other situation that I really enjoyed was the storyline of Debbie's necklace. My heart was about to break when I imagined Dan giving it to Debbie to mess with her. Which is of course what had to happen because he was planning to do it! RIght? But no! He just up and loses it. And that's what life is like. We plan to do all kinds of things and little events happen daily that we think mean something but then plans fall through and things come to nothing sometimes.
This story was yet another one that has other literary references in it. One of my favorite quotes from the novel was Peter's theory that was inspired by Siddhartha. Here it is: "I think," he said, "that it's a good thing to get out of your usual, you know, surroundings. Because you find things out about yourself that you didn't know, or you forgot. And then you go back to your regular life and you're changed, you're a little bit different because you take those new things with you. Like a Hindu, except all in one life: you sort of get reincarnated depending on what happened and what you figure out. And any one place can make you go forward, or backward, or neither, but gradually you find all your pieces, your important pieces, and they stay with you, so that you're your whole self no matter where you go. Your Buddha self. That's my theory, anyway." (pg 267)
There are a lot of other little things that I liked about the book but I think I'm going to cut myself off here for now because I think this might be getting too long, I want to believe at least a few people will read my response, lol.
So overall, I like the book a lot, just not all parts of it, but I think that's one reason why this would be a great book for invoking many different kinds of discussions in a literature classroom. (less)
i thought this was going to be YA but it definitely wasn't. there are way too many "adult" issues discussed in the book that i just think would be ove...morei thought this was going to be YA but it definitely wasn't. there are way too many "adult" issues discussed in the book that i just think would be over the young adult's head. i really liked it though, it was cool how it was sort of backwards chronologically and jumped back and forth with POVs.(less)
**spoiler alert** I thought this book had a lot of great components to it. I thought that the varying styles of narration/format worked seamlessly in...more**spoiler alert** I thought this book had a lot of great components to it. I thought that the varying styles of narration/format worked seamlessly in this novel. As I was reading I kind of imagined the whole thing as a movie. The dialogued parts were full scenes and the memos and diary entries were voice overs (in my head). I think that this book would be very conducive to "reader's theater" and dramatic readings, as well as acting out scenes in class. Students could produce their own short film versions as part of a project or extra credit.
I thought that this book addressed quite a few complicated and tough issues that would be great to be discussed in class. I realized in college that I never really evaluated any of the literary works we read in school from a feminist perspective. A few times, there are allusions to the fact that Ms. Narwin is unmarried as if that is a negative thing (page 96, 114). Now while obviously this issue is not a prominent theme, it is still a significant part of the book.
I do think that using this story in a classroom would be tricky. There are so many parallels in real life news, but I think because of the whole political-ness it would be risky to really get into the issues- at least for such an inexperienced teacher like myself. I kept wondering what parents reactions would be if I drew comparisons between the radio talk-show hosts and the likes of Glenn Beck and others like him.
I think that there are many valuable lessons to be learned from watching the progression of a small communication problem becoming the end of a career and a school-change for Philip. There are so many instances along the way where if one character had just opened their mouth and said what they were really thinking, all the problems could have been solved. I also liked the foil of Philip's father getting in trouble at work and not speaking up either. There are people making mistakes all over the place, and it's not just the kids, so I think that would be nice for kids to read about.
I also thought the ending was just perfect. I think that target age for the novel would have to be 9th or 10th grade. It says "bitch" so middle school parents might get upset, and I think any older than 9th or 10th grade might not be interested enough in it, but I could be wrong. (less)