Hmm, another picture novel. How do I keep ending up with these? After just one chapter, though, I was entranced. (Goodbye, Son of Neptune.)
Almost instantly, I had questions: Why does the boy live in the train station and where is his uncle? Why does this child maintain all the busy railroad station’s clocks? How will the automaton answer all Hugo’s questions about life? Won’t his childlike belief that it will somehow connect him to his father end up tragically? What does the old man accomplish when he tricks Hugo with the ashes? Is he the automaton’s creator?
The story of this poor, sad, lonely boy and the old toymaker he meets is poignant and immensely readable. I am charmed by the way Hugo connects to his surroundings by touching them until they become smooth and his drive to fix both the machines and people he encounters. The drawings, which make up about half of the novel’s 500 pages, bring each hand-drawn detail into intense focus, but it is the story that kept me reading. It is the story itself, a simple story that works as seamlessly as clock gears– full of tenuous, heartwrenching, and interlocking connections –that makes the book unforgettable.
As a sidenote: I found the link to the actual 1800s automaton (which this story is based on) fascinating. Check that out here: http://www.fi.edu/learn/sci-tech/automaton/automaton.php?cts=instrumentation