Mini Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Written by: Brian Selznick
Release Date: September 13th 2011
Pages: 640, Hardback
Series: Standalone
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Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories–Ben’s told in words, Rose’s in pictures–weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful–with over 460 pages of original artwork–Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

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Wow, this book. Again we have a simple storyline like Hugo, but unlike Hugo instead of just having it be simple and running with it, it’s built upon. The storyline is far more in depth, the characters are shown much more than before. This time we get to really know the characters and who they are. Yes they still have defining characteristics for the plot of the book, but that’s not all they are anymore. Now the characters have more depth and understanding, as a reader you start to get to know them a whole lot more.

My favorite part of this book is that it deals with deafness in such an amazing way. It’s not something brought front and center ‘REMEMBER THIS PERSON IS DEAF’, but it’s also not swept under the carpet and forgotten about. Deafness is treated just like it is, something that people have to often overcome and deal with, but people deal with it, they don’t make a big deal out of it. So much so in fact that not long after I read this book a friend of mine was assigned to read it in her deaf culture class. At one point in this book Rose is suddenly upset to find out that movies are about to become ‘talkies’ suddenly something she could do with those who are hearing, is going to once again, be delegated to the hearing only, something else to separate Rose.

Ben’s storyline is told through the words of this novel, and as such his story is a little more in depth than Rose’s but his really hinge the story, you get to know him and see his struggles through a lot of different problems that I don’t wanna go too in depth with since that is where the story starts to grow and change. You start picking up hints of how these two are connected but it’s not until the end that you see it all come together and get this amazing reveal that just left me so happy.

Overall this book was an amazing read, again a really fast read, but a read that just left me so happy. The ending was good and weird at the same time, the book was left with the storyline concluded but where we go from this moment? Who knows. I’m not normally a fan of books like this but with Wonderstruck it worked so peacefully and left me feeling so content with what I’d been given.

Sondra

Mini Review: The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Written by: Brian Selznick
Release Date: September 15th 2015
Pages: 665, Hardback
Series: Standalone
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Caldecott Award winner and bookmaking trailblazer Brian Selznick once again plays with the form he invented and takes readers on a voyage!

Two seemingly unrelated stories–one in words, the other in pictures–come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries.

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The number one thing I cannot stress enough is how much better Selznick gets with each and every book. Wonderstruck blew The Invention of Hugo Cabaret away, and now The Marvels has blown Wonderstruck away. If Selznick keeps going like this I don’t even know where we’ll be by the time he finishes publishing. Because holy wow this book was amazing.

This book took me longer than the others simply because it was written so differently. The first half of the book took me all of half an hour, because it was told entirely through pictures. I loved the narration, instead of the pictures adding to the story, or complicating the story (As it was with Hugo and Wonderstruck) this was a story completely held within the images. When the book itself picks up you’re left a little confused but the pieces quickly start coming together in a surprising and wonderful way.

Another thing I love about Selznick’s books is the way he handles subjects. In Wonderstruck it was deafness, in The Marvel’s it’s being gay. The man’s husband is treated no differently than if he’d had a wife. It’s mentioned as a simple fact and I can’t say how much I enjoy books that don’t make a big deal. They don’t scream that this book is LGBTQ+ and try and throw it in people’s faces, it just simply is.

By the end of the book when everything is coming together, well, I won’t spoil it, but let me tell you the twists were so beautiful, and and the story came together in such an unexpected way that I can say I’m so thrilled with this book. Overall I can’t really rave enough about how this book came together. I just want you to experience it for yourself. So don’t let the huge size get in your way, trust me, just jump in and enjoy it.

Sondra

Mini Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabaret by Brian Selznick

Written by: Brian Selznick
Release Date: April 1st 2007
Pages: 533, Hardback
Series: Standalone
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Today is day one of a really fun weekend! I recently read all of Brian Selznick’s books and just fell head over heels in love with all of them, so I’ve decided to do something really fun, for the next three days there’s gonna be mini reviews of his books! I tried to combine them all into one post and it just didn’t work, so instead I’ve decided to make this awesome weekend of reviews, so without further ado here we go!

 

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Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

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I picked up this book on a whim at Half Price books, the price was cheap, and so I decided to just snag it because I had a coupon, so why not? I am beyond thrilled that I did. Ever since Illuminae I’ve been hunting for books that are different, that aren’t the typical style of books. I haven’t been able to find a whole bunch of them (So if you know of more leave me a note in the comments!!) but this one was a very easy success.

I think the most surprising thing for me was the fact that the storyline was so simple, when we’re talking a 500+ page novel normally those books are in depth and crazy serious. But with so many pages of flipping through images not only was the storyline beautiful in its simplicity but it made for a very quick read, I finished it within a day.  I loved seeing this world that was created and the way the clocks and gears played a huge part throughout the entire book. I also loved how Selznick played with history as well, it was woven through the pages in such an excellent way that it felt real.

At the same time I think my downfall of the story was its simplicity as well. I can’t write up a large post about how great the characters were, because there wasn’t a lot of them. They each had their one really great central character focus, that one driving force behind what they chose to do and even did. But still there wasn’t a lot of character growth and change. It worked for the story, I feel, but I did come off wishing for a little bit more.

Overall this book left me with something that filled my entire day with a fantasy story that had me grinning and completely enthralled with the simple story. It was a perfect book to read while the rain came down outside.

Sondra