I’m not sure I should count this one. The size of The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a bit daunting until you look inside. It’s 533 thick (as in good-quality) pages. I was expecting it to take a while. But no. Near the end of the book, the author, Brian Selznik, mentions that it’s only around 26,000 words, which is roughly half the length of The Great Gatsby, which is about the shortest a novel can be and still be called a novel. Below 50k, it’s a novella. So The Invention of Hugo Cabret is, word-wise, a short novella.
But the words are only part of it. It’s filled with beautiful pencil drawings – and even some photographs. It’s a beautiful mix of the traditional and graphic novel, and I loved every minute of it, though I wish it was a lot longer.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is about a young boy, Hugo, who lives in a train station in Paris. His father died, so he moved there with his uncle, but his uncle disappeared. Hugo is left all alone to perform his uncle’s job of keeping all the clocks in the station wound and running correctly. Before his father, who was also a clock-maker, died, he had been working to repair an automaton he’d found, the origin of which no one seemed to know.
Hugo is determined to fix the automaton because he thinks it has a message for him: it’s sitting at a desk, pen in hand, ready to start writing. He gets the parts for it by stealing from the toymaker in a stall nearby. Eventually, he gets caught, and things get interesting.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s different. Martin Scorsese is directing a movie based on the novel, which I’d imagine would work out very well.