Something hit Ben Wilson and he
opened his eyes.
Opening words to
by Brian Selznick
In his new novel Wonder Struck, Mr. Selznick continues the experiment with words and pictures he began in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The story-line in Wonder Struck is similar but simpler than Hugo Cabret was. The are children on the run, this time a deaf girl and a boy looking for his father. There is a marvelous old building to hide in, this time the Museum of Natural History in New York City. There is a connection with the past that brings about the novel's resolution. The deaf girl's story is told through pictures intermingled with the boy's story which is told in text. She moves forward in time while his story looks back to the past. Their paths cross at the the Museum of Natural History where their connection is revealed.
I was disappointed to find no fresh devices in Wonder Struck. The story is good; it's very well told, too, but Mr. Selznick is using the same sort of visual tricks he used in Hugo Cabret: repeating the same scene but gradually pulling back to reveal details that change what we think of the scene and lots of drawings of children running through large scary urban spaces for example. There is so much ephemera picturing the Museum of Natural History over the years that I was surprised to find none of it in Wonder Struck. No photographs, no antique maps, no diagrams or newspaper articles. Mr. Selznick's drawings are marvelous, he is one of the best illustrators currently working in any format, but I missed the use of photographs that helped bring so much fun to Hugo Cabret.
Mr. Selznick has produced wonderful work in the past. This time he's done something that is very good. If only he hadn't spoiled us with The Invention of Hugo Cabret.