Sunday, October 9, 2011

“Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you'd be able to find whatever you were looking for.”


Wonderstruck – Brian Selznick

639 pages

Genre:  Juvenile; Historical Fiction; Mystery; Sequential Art

Summary:  Wonderstruck unfolds through the eyes of two distinct characters:  Ben, a young boy growing up in 1970s Minnesota, whose story is told in words; and Rose, a young girl living in New Jersey during the 1920s, whose story is told in pictures. 

Ben’s mom has just passed away in a tragic accident, and Ben has to come to terms with life without her.  After her death, he begins to wonder about the father he has never met and works to piece together clues to figure out who he is.  Meanwhile, Rose is obsessed with an actress who lives in New York City, and at the onset of the story, it is easy to see how much she longs to escape into a world that she believes is better suited for her.  Will Ben and Rose ever find what they’re looking for?

Review:  Wonderstruck was my first foray into Selznick’s body of work, and it definitely won’t be my last.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the fact that it was a dual narrative.  While this form doesn’t work for every book, it worked exceptionally well in Wonderstruck.  I loved piecing together the clues about Ben’s life through words, and it was equally enjoyable to learn more about Rose through pictures.  The text was quite well-written, the pictures were absolutely breathtaking, and I found myself completely absorbed in both.  Throughout the story, I wondered when and if the texts were ever going to coincide, and when they did, it really surprised me in a wonderful way.  This book engaged me and kept me guessing until the very last page.

As I just mentioned, the pictures are fabulous.  The images Selznick created were extremely lifelike and beautiful, and I found myself lingering over them for quite some time to ensure that I absorbed all of the nuances.  Rose’s story really didn’t need any written explanation because of the sequential art, and I really liked that none was included.

Another interesting facet of this book centered around deafness.  I haven’t often encountered deaf characters in my literary wanderings, and to have two deaf main characters was really interesting.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a book that combines mystery, adventure, beautiful artwork, and historical fiction, definitely give Wonderstruck a try.

Rating:  4.5/5

Other Books by Brian Selznick:  The Invention of Hugo Cabret, The Houdini Box, The Boy of a Thousand Faces, The Robot King

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