At my grand old age of 16, people questioned me immediately when I picked up this book at the school library. Actually, when I reserved it (3 day loan, yet 6 week wait- it is very popular!) Littered with pictures and amounting to just 30000 words (there is a word count!) the complexity of such a book is questionable, particularly for someone of my age group. What is immediately striking though is that any previous doubts will be immediately dispelled, the moment you lay eyes on the first illustration; an artistic masterpiece in itself that filled me with envy. It really is the case that a picture can tell a thousand words. Occasionally 20 pages go by with just solid artistic brilliance and the brain registers it completely as a story, as if words were accompanying these images. The nature of this story telling makes it totally suitable for a member of any age group. A child of little imagination could truly envisage the city of Paris springing to life from these pictures, where as an adult could look into the subtleties of the world dipicted through the drawings. It really is delightful.
In the city of paris in the 20th Century a boy, Hugo Cabret, whose mind is geared to repairing anything, is essentially left to fend for himself. He has a goal though, and that is to repair a mysterious automaton that looks as if it could be the key to writing a secret note. It was his father's desire to see what is written, but now it is down to Hugo Cabret to finish the job. Oddly this storyline isn't the most major plot in the book. Despite the considerably short length, this is only a small section of the story, which later on, evolves into a novel that takes some of real history and twists of fiction and gives a beautiful insight in the history of cinematography. It sounds bizarre, and I suppose it is, but everything that makes this book what it is,at first appearance is strange.
Despite its size (at an excess of 500 pages) the 'shortness' of the story really helps it to drive along at a constant and action-packed concept. There are no overused epic adventures, or clichéd fables in this book. Whilst, admittedly, Hugo spends much of the time with the motive of finding his palce in the world, it is just a subtle undercurrent of all the rapidly occuring events throughout the book. As a masterpiece of art, a childrens book, or a quick read on the commute to work, this book is beautiful and a combination of the complex and the simple that will really make it appeal to all.