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Shelf Indulgence

Books. Reviews.

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Chuck Wendig
Samuel R. Delany
Charles L. Grant


Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick In The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Selznick created one story in two media, prose and art. In Wonderstruck he does the same thing, but this time there are two concurrent stories taking place. Instead of alternating the story between one medium and another, he tells one story with art and one story with prose. I loved the way Selznick told the story of Hugo, using art in place of narrative to keep the story moving, but I found the technique he uses in Wonderstruck to be more effective. Part of it is due to the characters and the importance of one medium over the other in relation to who they are, but I'm not going to spoil it for you by telling you why.

The dustjacket on the book says little about the story inside, save that it's about two people from different time periods who are on a mission of self-discovery, and really, that's all anyone needs to know about this story. Part of what makes it such a joy to read is the way Selznick reveals the story one tiny piece at a time, and spoiling anything about it would only take that joy away from anyone else. It's somewhat frustrating, since I want to talk about the moments of brilliance that pepper this book, but if you've read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, then you should have an idea of what's in store.

The artwork is incredible. It's lush and evocative, and full of little details for devoted readers to pore over. I love the crosshatching style that Selznick uses in his artwork, and I like the way he uses graphite to evoke a sense of texture in all of the illustrations. The paper used to print the book is smooth, but looking at the pictures, you'll be tempted to rub the artwork just to get a sense of that texture he creates. You might even think that some of that graphite will come off on your fingertips, too.

I don't know if this story is better than Hugo; since he's already written a book in this style, it won't strike anyone as new, and the story isn't any more or less resonant than Hugo. He does seem to have developed his talent for combining the two types of storytelling, so at the very least there's a sense of maturity to the story that, while Hugo doesn't lack, at least isn't quite as mature as this one. Anyone who enjoyed one, though, deserves to read the other, too.