Clocks, automata, secret passageways and moving pictures pioneer Georges Méliès - it's difficult to go wrong with such compelling subjects, and yet . . . The Invention of Hugo Cabret tries to mesh these into the already well-established 'orphaned child' genre of young adult lit. It doesn't succeed overly well, I'm afraid.
The writing feels awkward and uncomfortable, even accounting for a younger audience. (If I were and eight year old reading this, I'd be flat-out insulted at the condescending tone of some of the passages. To say nothing of the older kids this book gets aimed at.) Combined with the attention to detail on the illustrations and layout, perhaps Brian Selznick is more at home with images than words, or his attention was divided too much between the two. It's hard to say.