All books are unique, some less so than others, but in essence each has something about it that makes it special.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret takes thAll books are unique, some less so than others, but in essence each has something about it that makes it special.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret takes this uniqueness to a whole new level, immersing you in 1930's Paris (although in truth the location is not that important) with a combination of carefully selected words and lovingly crafted pencil drawings.
Official synopsis: “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 interlock with an eccentric girl and her grandfather, 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 from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.”
From the moment of picking up the book it is easy to tell this is something special. The black pages, contrasting front and back covers, its sheer size, even the title, they all suggest something unusual. It is not until you start reading though, that you really get a feel for this novel, and that feeling is mostly wonder. The great detail in each and every drawing, coupled with the slightly odd, but none the less perfect layout of the text... There isn't really any other word for it.
The book itself, as a common word prose is nice. Simple, sweet and well written, even edging towards haunting, but it wouldn't be anything to write home about without the images. They make the story. They are the story. They draw you in, these black and white sketches, they make the story come alive, emphasising every emotion and action, from isolation, to excitement, to fear, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a wonderful experience because of them.
Isolation is key in this story. We see through the eyes of Hugo as he looks out into the world, a world he fears. But it is also about hope, of taking chances, and of trust, the need to open up to other people and let them in.
The book is a beast, coming in at over 500 pages – daunting for a kids book – but as most of the pages are pictures, it doesn't take long to read. The size, the presence of the book, with it's black pages and it's beautiful presentation are so important. I really do believe that the look and feel of the book is just as important as the words, and as a whole package it works perfectly.
A simple tale presented on a grand scale. Highly recommended.
Mon Amour is not perfect, it is not the pinnacle of the genre, but it is a simple and striking combination of beautiful, detailed and skilful images –Mon Amour is not perfect, it is not the pinnacle of the genre, but it is a simple and striking combination of beautiful, detailed and skilful images – almost everyone of them worth study in their own right – and strong, balanced prose, with a fun thriller story.
The illustrations are Mon Amour's most note-worthy feature, but I'm struggling on how to summarise them. I don't pretend to know art, plus much of what I have to say on the artwork in this book I said in my review for the first book. Mon Amour is very much the same in a style sense to the first book, naturally, as Talbot draws it all (though he does not colour). The care and attention gone in to each image is obvious, and Talbot seems to have a natural knack for expressions on anthropomorphic animals faces.
The story itself is another strong point in Mon Amour. Similar to the first book, in terms of tone and themes – murder, political intrigue, love and loss – though Mon Amour is more about murder and loss, whilst the first Grandville leant towards political intrigue and love. The mysteries and twists are not that unexpected, but are interesting none the less, and the pseudo-historical setting is fascinating.
If there is one place that Grandville: Mon Amour falls down at is length, exactly the same problem that blighted the first book. It is the main argument on which you could say graphic novels are not as involving or important as full books, as how deep can a story be if it is only 100 pages? But it doesn't matter, Grandville is an excellent read.
Grandville: Mon Amour is not the finest literature, it does not transcend genres, but it is a brilliant piece of fiction, brought to life with magnificent detailed colours....more