Pricky's Reviews > The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
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's review
Jan 16, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: childrens, could-ve-been-but-wasn-t, mystery, read-in-2012, content-advisory, historical
Read from January 16 to 26, 2012

I know many reviewers LOVE this story, so I think I'm just an anomaly in the crowd.

For it's artistic form, this book is amazing. The drawings and photographs inserted within the narrative really show how many dimensions there are to storytelling. As I was flipping through each scene, I felt as if I was an bystander watching little details unfold right before my eyes. It definitely deserved a Caldecott Medal for best picture book of 2008.

The MC, Hugo, lives in the train station keeping the clocks running when his thievery causes him to confront the toy-maker. The toy-maker keeps Hugo's notebook--filled with pictures of an automaton. With the toy-maker's goddaughter, Hugo must discover the mystery behind the automaton.

The story is simple enough and broken into 2 parts: The first part is Hugo putting back together the automaton; the second part is discovering the purpose of the automaton.

Unfortunately, the characters drove me CRAZY: too many secrets, no one seems to be able to trust each other, accusations, lying, thievery....There's the grouchy toy-maker who tricks and lies to Hugo about his notebook. There's Hugo, who has lost his father and lives in the train station--lying and stealing to get by--stealing, even after given a chance by the toy-maker. I felt no sympathy for Hugo; his obsession with the automaton and lack of integrity and constant thievery just didn't appeal to me. He seemed almost psychotic in his need to finish the automaton.

By the time the second half came along, I literally had to force myself to finish. I was so disinterested in Hugo's adventure; I just wanted it to be over. The second half begins with a series of drawings which to tell you the truth sort of freaked me out. They were b&w drawings of dragons, and fires, and exploding heads and quite frankly a bit scary for me, let alone a child (who by the way, got scared by the pictures). When we find out that (view spoiler) things get even more bizarre. When confronted with this fact, Georges just suddenly "wakes" up; well...more like, flipped a switch...I mean, who does that after 10 or so years of denial? I mean, doesn't he have to deal with any psychological baggage?

So...then we get introduced to these real life movie stills and photographs from the 1900s. Can you say: CREEPY? Here are photographs of a lady with movie reels covering her chest, an underwater scene with sharp toothed fish, an accordion horse, and various other scenes that sort of repulsed me.

It's an interesting attempt to integrate the real life photographs of Georges Melies with the fictional one in the story, but as far as the story goes...I'm just not into it. And the pictures, so disturbing, I wanted to get this book away from me as far as possible....
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Tam Tam (new)

Tam Tam weeird. so you're going to go see the movie?

Pricky well...probably not. I was going to but I wasn't that impressed by the "story." It's really all about a (view spoiler) and everyone is happy. So, no...sadly..not gonna go see.

message 3: by Tam Tam (new)

Tam Tam Oh...huh.

message 4: by Laura (new)

Laura Wow, sad to hear you didn't like the book--I haven't read it, but the movie was absolutely lovely!

Pricky Laura wrote: "Wow, sad to hear you didn't like the book--I haven't read it, but the movie was absolutely lovely!"

I know. I was a bit disappointed. I was reading this so I could go see the movie. Lots of people have said the movie is really good so I may end up seeing it on DVD when it comes out.

message 6: by Tam Tam (new)

Tam Tam Good to know about the movie!

Kristy I actually liked the lying and distrust through the characters. You have Hugo, who's father died in a freak accident. His home destroyed, all he has left of him is a notebook and the automaton. Of course he would be almost psychotic about finishing it, wouldn't you? You're uncle is an abusive drunk, and God only knows what will happen to you in the orphanage, you certainly cannot take the automaton with you. Psychologically, that machine is his best physical connection to his father and MUST be finished at any cost.
George is a jaded cinematographer who's life's work and passion has been reduced to ash. He's angry and distrustful. No one in real life who has gone through these traumas are ever forthcoming. The "light switch" as you would call it in George's rapid behavior change is due to the automaton, true physical evidence that his work is still alive and beloved.

message 8: by Tam Tam (new)

Tam Tam Did you end up watching the movie? I finally did like 2 months ago. It was okay. And weird. Couldn't imagine having to read that whole book just for that.

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