If you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken: “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”

Review: The Adventures of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick

Hugo Cabret is a young boy who lives in the walls of a train station in Paris. He works as an apprentice clock keeper for his uncle, but when his uncle goes missing Hugo has no choice but to tend to the clocks in place of his uncle so he still has a place to live. Hugo’s most prized possession being his late father’s broken automaton which was rescued from the ruins of the burned down museum, where his father died. He works hard trying to make the automaton work again as he believes that it will display a message left to him from his father. Hugo would steal toys from small shops, using their parts to repair the automaton, until one day when he is caught by the old man who owns the shop. The old man and his family hold the secret of the automaton and Hugo will stop at nothing to find out what it is.

Even though this book isn’t a picture book, it isn’t generally a graphic novel either. The illustrations and photographs are suitable for the book, there aren’t enough to make it a graphic novel, and there is also quite a bit of text. However, the images are majorly part of the book as it is not simply adding to the text, but essential to tell the story. Having pictures tell us the story gives us a break from all of the text and just allows us to enjoy the story and really appreciate what it is trying to portray.

The illustrations are also pleasant to look at. They are black and white sketched drawings that are very carefully drawn and are detailed. The amount of detail used is beautiful and again helps the reader comprehend what is going on and really tells the story, rather than having a simple illustration with no clear meaning.

The storyline of the book is intriguing on its own and didn’t necessarily need the illustrations because the text is descriptive, but at times it was too simplistic. I would have enjoyed it a bit more if the characters were described better; they weren’t very developed. I think this book should be aimed at more of a teenage audience due to the themes of the book. It’s about keeping the magic and imagination alive, especially when you’ve had a troubled past, and it just feels more suited for teenagers because they tend to lose their imagination at that age. This also brings in themes of fixing broken things, or in this case people with an emotional background.

Overall, I think The Adventures of Hugo Cabret graphic novel had an intriguing storyline and amazing illustrations and photographs, but there was still something missing for me. It just needed something to really make it fantastic. That said, I would recommend this book to teenagers to read and I rate this book a 7/10.

One thought on “If you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken: “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”

  1. This is an effective review. You summarise the plot succinctly, and then provide an evaluation of the novel’s strengths and weaknesses. Be careful that you don’t contradict yourself. In the second last paragraph you say that the text is descriptive, but simplistic. This is a little contradictory. I would also like to know what the “something” is that you think would have made the novel fantastic. Try to find that for next time. 🙂

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