Book Review: The Marvels

I already read The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. Time for the next one...

The Marvels
By Brian Selznick
672 pages

I loved Hugo Cabret. Wonderstruck was good. The Marvels would be good too, right? Meh.

Unlike the other two, which included pencil drawings and text all mixed together, this one was text bookended by the graphic story. And that's where it went wrong for me.

The first part is art. It tells the story of Billy Marvel, how he got shipwrecked, then his career in theatre, then the stories of Billy's family through the generations. This part was really well done, complex, yet perfectly portrayed in all pictures, gripping, moving, almost adult ish. If the rest of the book was as good as the first part, well bring it on.

Then the text happened. And I felt let down. There's a story about young Joseph and his uncle Alexander, and Alexander Nightingale's fantastic house, which is stuck in some fantastic time period. The story is not gripping, moving or almost adult ish. It is draggy, contrived, and juvenile. Yes there's a twist. Which is interesting but...contrived.

Finally the beautiful art comes back to close off the story, showing us the adult life of Joseph and continuing the story of family through the ages.

So, two thirds is fantastic, but the main text didn't hold my attention very well. I'm not the target audience though and I suspect many people of all ages will enjoy this book. It was still good enough to convince me to read Selznick's next book.

I would recommend The Marvels to anyone who liked Selznick's other books, or anyone who enjoys theatre. It's a quick read and still worth your time, if not for the great graphic art.