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.


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.


A Monster Calls

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Written by: Patrick Ness
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Pages: 205, Hardback
Series: Standalone
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The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.


This review will be pretty short, just as the book was pretty short, but I wanted to express my appreciation for the general amazingness of the story, so here we are! My review will almost definitely not do this book justice, but I want to scream about it a little anyway.

This book is not what I thought it would be from the cover, which seemed to scream “creepy horror story! do not read before bed time!” Really, it was more along the lines of “deeply upsetting story! do not read on public transportation!” (I did, in fact, read a significant part of it on public transportation). A Monster Calls is about a boy who is isolated and angry and hurting. It’s about grief and lies and truth and the power of stories. And even though the topics it deals with are painful, there are notes of optimism.

There’s a bit of a children’s-book feel in the writing, but it’s not really a children’s book, or at least, not just for children. A Monster Calls combines a fairy-tale-like tone with one of the most honest portrayals of grief and loss I have ever seen. It hurts, but in a good way, you know, and in a way that always feels genuine and not manufactured. The sentences are the kind that you reread over and over so they can get into your heart just right. The art is unique and beautiful and strengthens the effect of the words. The story is deeply human, powerful and memorable.


I usually have at least one or two nitpicks to put into this section. This time I have nothing, not even “I wanted more of ______”. This book was perfect pretty much the way it was.



I like the simplicity in this book. Or maybe that’s not the right word, because because behind the simple plot and writing are some beautifully portrayed complicated emotions, but anyway–this isn’t an “everything happens so much” type of book like so many others I’ve read this year. It’s quiet and personal, all the better to keep the focus on the emotions it evokes in the reader. I felt Conor’s pain, and his relationships with his mother and grandmother did things to my heart. And unlike some books, which almost seems to be pushing certain feelings on the reader, the writing here is very subtle and the emotions so raw and honest and effective.

I love this book’s emphasis on stories: their power, their sometimes-ambiguity, the truth they contain. “The power of words” is a pretty frequent theme in books, authors being authors, but the way it’s done in this book is incredibly memorable.

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?

To tell the truth, it’s difficult for me to pick out individual things I love because this book works so well as a whole. The writing, in all its simplicity, is lovely and lyrical. I don’t think I can talk enough about how much I love it. Likewise, the illustrations are breathtaking.


Pick up. I don’t say this often, but A Monster Calls is a book that everyone definitely needs to read.