HUGO is the story of a 12 year old orphan boy named Hugo Cabret. He lives in the walls of a train station in 1931 Paris, fixing and maintaining the clocks of the station.
Hugo was raised by his widowed father until… his father dies in a fire that consumes the entire museum that his father works at and repairs toys, clocks and automatons including the most advanced automaton that anyone had ever beheld. Hugo finds out his father has passed away via his uncle Claude, a drunkard who works as the clock maintainer in a train station.
He takes Hugo and teaches him the trade of fixing and maintaining the clocks until one day he mysteriously disappears. Hugo continues to maintain the clocks whilst also repairing the automaton that ultimately caused the death of his father in the vain hopes that it may reveal a message when fully repaired and inserted with a heart shaped key.
Enter Papa Georges and his goddaughter Isabelle. Isabelle and Hugo become fast friends and they discover that her key, gifted to her by her godmother, fits the automaton’s keyhole. They use it to unlock the secrets of the automaton and it draws a picture of a rocket blasting into the eye of the moon and signs it George Melies. After this amazing discovery, the book explores Hugo and Isabelle’s quest for the truth.
The story of Hugo is a well written story that includes not only text but also includes many pictures that fluently narrate the story, carrying on from where the text left off. This is important as it makes you feel as if you are both reading the story and watching a silent movie of stills. It was most likely done deliberately as the movie explores the origins of movies and it is intricately woven into the storyline. Although it is done quite well, I personally would have liked to have seen more text and less pictures as I enjoy reading more than viewing hand drawn pictures of the story.
The text is descriptive and accurately details to you how to view the story in your mind’s eye when not looking at the pictures. The text is written in third person and although there is quite a bit of text, it is evenly matched by the amount of images drawn and depicted on the other pages. Also, although the text used is aimed at younger readers, around children aged 10 to 12, it can easily be read by anyone from ages 8 to 108. Although the text descriptive and interesting usually, I would have preferred that it be more difficult and complex as opposed to aimed at younger readers.
The language used throughout the text is simple and is meant to be read by both younger audiences as well as older audiences so it suits perfectly. The text varies in amounts before switching to images and vice versa. The images and the text tell the story without overlapping and repeating some parts. This is extremely important as it gives you a sense of immersion in the story without having to try too hard and makes reading Hugo more interesting.
The images are drawn in a simple technique such as sketching. They are black and white and are drawn using either normal pencils or charcoal pencils, allowing it to be shadowed and dark in certain areas or light and happy in other areas. By the images being drawn in black and white, it allows the images to be more detailed and more fleshed out as when in black and white it allows for more detail to be viewed easier. The images are quite detailed and accurately tell the story.
The images set the scene of the story and throughout the story, the moon is used to depict the beginning; the full moon; and the end; an empty sky with no moon; of the story. Throughout the story motifs such as clocks and eyes are used to represent that everything on earth has its place and when working in harmony, we work perfectly together and also the eyes represent that there is something greater than us that is watching over us.
The pictures vary in the scales and views as on some pages it is a single page spread while on others it is a double page spread. There are also many actual photographs taken as movie stills from some of the first movies created. These are included in the book to create the feeling of being absorbed in the book and learning more about the history of movies.
Although Hugo is a well written book that completely immerses you in the storyline by using images to set the scene and having alternating amounts of text matched by equal amounts of text, I did not thoroughly enjoy it. I would recommend it to people because it is a good book but it is not one of my preferred genres of reading.