Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Summary/Cover Image from Goodreads:

"From Brian Selznick, the creator of the Caldecott Medal winner THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, comes another breathtaking tour de force.

Playing with the form he created in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.

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."


When I first read The Invention of Hugo Cabret also by Brian, I was completely speechless on what a masterpiece Brian has created. I had never read anything like it, and his sketches were just beautiful and breathtaking. I loved it so much. So when I found out about Wonderstruck, his second illustrated novel, I knew I had to pick it up. Wonderstruck was again, fascinating, but I find that Hugo Cabret was still my favorite, because of the plot. Some other aspects in Wonderstruck fell a little flat for me.

The story is told in 2 ways: the writing part of the story is Ben's story, and Rose's story is told in the illustrations. Their stories are told 50 years apart, but in the end, the two stories intertwine, making a third story. Ben's story involves wolves, a museum, and a quest to find his father. Rose's story involves New York, a book (Wonderstruck), and her brother Walter. Towards the end, we find out that Rose is actually Ben's grandmother. The plot was interesting in the beginning of the novel; it reminded me that sometimes, simplicity is the best way to go. But as the story went on, it became a little mundane for me, and I just wanted to look at the illustrations. The conclusion was very predictable. I guess the plot just fell flat and didn't work out for me. However, I did like how Brian somewhat related the illustrations with the words, even when the story was from 2 different people's vantage points.

An aspect that I liked about Wonderstruck was the fact that the characters were deaf. They used different ways of communication, and I liked watching that happen. The characters were alright; they didn't really have any personality. They were kids in the book; regular, curious kids. Nothing special.

The writing was mediocre as well. Just average writing, nothing too fantastic. The only thing that really drew me in were the illustrations. They are fabulous, and I can't seem to get enough of his illustrations. The illustrations were easy to understand and it just had a comfortable vibe to them. I can recognize Selznick's work anywhere.

Sadly, Wonderstruck was not my cup of tea. Too many things were wrong with it, and not enough things went right. However, I do still recommend it to readers who enjoyed Hugo Cabret, simply for the joy of watching Selznick's artwork unfold right in your hands.

Grade: C+

Wonderstruck (Amazon, B&N) is now out!

Source: Library

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