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.

Mini

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