A BRIEF INTRODUCTIONNothing I ever read about this book really called to me, and I put off reading it for -- what? -- four years now? Since I rate it 10 out of 10, I want to say something that encourages others like me to reconsider getting a copy. That introduction by one of the characters does it for me.
The story I am about to share with you takes place in 1931, under the roofs of Paris. Here you will meet a boy named Hugo Cabret, who once, long ago, discovered a mysterious drawing that changed his life forever.
But before you turn the page, I want you to picture yourself sitting in the darkness, like the beginning of a movie. On screen, the sun will soon rise, and you will find yourself zooming toward a train station in the middle of the city. You will rush through the doors into a crowded lobby. You will eventually spot a boy amid the crowd, and he will start to move through the train station. Follow him, because this is Hugo Cabret. His head if full of secrets, and he's waiting for his story to begin.
-- Professor H. Alcofrisbas
We watch Hugo tinker with cogs and wheels, and eventually we find out who that Professor Alcofrisbas really is. This quote from page 374 seems to sum up Hugo's philosophy of life:
Hugo thought about his father's description of the automaton. "Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason?" he asked Isabelle.As I said, it's a ten-ten book, which means, "Loved it!! Couldn't put it down!!" I read it straight through, all 534 pages of it.
"They are built to make you laugh, like the mouse here, or to tell the time, like clocks, or to fill you with wonder, like the automaton. Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do."
Isabelle picked up the mouse, wound it again, and set it down.
"Maybe it's the same with people," Hugo continued. "If you lose your purpose . . . it's like you're broken."