Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I just started this book last evening and by looking at it, believed it would take me at least a couple of days to get through, not realizing that more than half of the book is pictures and the pages that do have writing on them are mainly half pages, if that. I'm done already, which makes me happy, because I can move on to the next book on the challenge list! But first, a quick review...

I have heard so much positive buzz about this book, not only in the blogging world, but in magazines, book catalogs, etc. and this made me believe the book would be utterly fantastic. I mean, I only read The Book Thief because everyone posted as to how great it was and it ended up being my favorite book EVER. Unfortunately, I wasn't all that impressed with Hugo Cabret. The drawings were absolutely amazing, the writing was good, but the story was just a story to me. It wasn't anything heart-stopping or all that memorable. I felt cheated out of something special when I was finished.

The plot begins with us meeting Hugo, a young orphan who was an apprentice to his alcoholic uncle, the timekeeper for a train station, who mysteriously disappears and leaves Hugo to tend the clocks himself or risk being caught and sent to an orphanage. Hugo manages on his own, constantly following his dream of fixing a quirky machine made of different mechanical parts that when fixed will write a message that Hugo believes is from his father. The reader learns more parts to the mystery of the machine, the note, and parts of history as the story moves on, while witnessing Hugo form bonds with the most unexpected of people.

I did have a favorite selection from the book to share:
"Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason?" he asked Isabelle. "They are built to make you laugh, like the mouse here, or to tell the time, like clocks, or to fill you with wonder, like the automaton. Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do. "
Isabelle picked up the mouse, wound it again, and set it down.
"Maybe it's the same with people," Hugo continued. "If you lose your purpose...it's like you're broken."

This little portion of the story did cause me to stop and think about just how Hugo was feeling and how I feel that way quite often. If someone's purpose is taken away, they are broken and lost. Again, a good book, but nothing I would put on a Top 10 list or even rate as "excellent," even with a great quote like that. It certainly is worth a read though, if for nothing more than the beautiful drawings intermingled within the text, helping to tell Hugo's story.

Just to be fair, when I add the pages in this book to my "total pages read in 2007" list...I will only use half of the total number of pages in the book, being that a lot of them are drawings. I'm all about fairness and honesty people! :-) Happy reading!


Marg said...

I've been seeing a lot of mentions of this book! Haven't seen it here yet, but I guess we will get it eventually.

Kailana said...

haha, weird, I read this book yesterday too, but I haven't had a chance to post about it yet. I personally disagree with your page counting, though, because while there is not writing on the pages, the pictures tell the story too. No one said that it all had to be words. :) I suppose this comes from a course I took in university about picture books. I wouldn't put it on my top ten either, but it was different, so I liked it. :)

Stephanie said...

I picked this up at the bookstore this past weekend and glanced at it. The pictures were gorgeous...but I didn't buy it! Sorry you didn't like it as much as the Book Thief...but who would?? I just read that a couple of months ago and thought it was FANTASTIC!

Debi said...

I hadn't heard of this book before. It sounds like an interesting tale, and even though it doesn't make your tops list, I might give it a shot. I love the passage you quoted...definitely worth a little contemplation. Thank you so much for the review...I absolutely love reading your reviews!

Amanda said...

I'm so glad Debi! I like to write them!

Estella said...

Well, I am sorry to read that you didn't love Hugo as much as I did, but I can certainly see how this one wouldn't be everyone's bag. The artwork was loooovely, though, wasn't it? :)