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the marvelsWhat: The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Who: Scholastic Press

When: September 15th 2015

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Scholastic Australia for review.

Caldecott Award winner and bookmaking trailblazer Brian Selznick once again plays with the form he invented and takes readers on a voyage!

Two seemingly unrelated stories–one in words, the other in pictures–come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries.

5cats2I read The Invention of Hugo Cabret after seeing the Hugo movie and absolutely adoring it. I was actually kind of disappointed in the book, because I felt that it wasn’t as special. Even so, I was pretty excited when what is possibly the most beautiful book in history arrived on my doorstep. I was excited, because even if I hadn’t loved the Hugo book as much as the movie, the illustrations were amazing, and it inspired the story I’d loved so much.

And then I saw some not-so-rave reviews for The Marvels, and I thought it might turn out to be the same as Hugo. Beautiful, but not much more. About half way through, I thought I would be rating this book two stars. And now it’s one of my favourites of this year, and I implore you to read it. Here are some reasons why you should.

1) It made me cry. I’m 22 years of age, and read well over a hundred books each year. I’ve only cried in eight of them. The Marvels is now the ninth. I closed this book, said “oh my god”, and promptly burst into tears. I’m not lying, I’m not dramatising it. That’s legitimately what happened. This book kind of tore my heart out in the best possible way.

2) It’s incredibly emotional and heartfelt. Which is why I cried, obviously. There is such a deeper meaning to this book than you could ever imagine from the blurb, or from reading the first half. Everything falls into place towards the end, and it’s just beautiful.

3) The illustrations. I can only imagine how much time and effort went into creating hundreds of pages of illustrations, all of which are incredible. I admire Selznick so much, because you can literally see every stroke of the pencil (or charcoal stick, or whatever was used to create these pieces of art) and how much thought went into every one.

4) Not only is this a beautiful book on the inside, but it is on the outside, as well. The pages are covered in gold foil, as is the cover, and there are gold borders on the naked book, as well. I seriously don’t think I have ever seen a book so gorgeous before.

5) It’s LGBTQIA+, in more ways than one. And it’s subtle and beautiful (how many times have I used that word in this review? I DON’T EVEN CARE BECAUSE THIS BOOK IS BEAUTIFUL) and accepted and just all the yes to this book because of this aspect. It made the book, to be honest. There’s no way this book would be half as special if not for the seamlessly and perfectly interwoven diversity.

6) Don’t believe what you’ve seen. Don’t let the mediocre or less than stellar reviews of this book sway you because my first thought when I go back and read them now is: they weren’t reading the same book I was.

7) You won’t regret reading it, because this book is … wait for it … beautiful. It really is. And it’s special. And heartbreaking. And heart-warming. And you need it in your life.

© 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: death by HIV/AIDS, death via car accident, and loss of residence by fire in this novel

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Posted on: December 8, 2015 • By: Chiara

10 Responses to Why You Need to Read The Marvels by Brian Selznick

  1. Honestly, I kind of love when you have this reaction to a book when you’re expecting to hate it because of bad reviews. It just makes it even more special, you know? And even though I didn’t fall in love with this one myself, I’m glad you loved it <3

  2. I didn’t fall in love with The Marvels but I did really enjoy it. And Brian Selznick’s illustrations and the way he tied everything together was really masterful. I don’t know which of his books I prefer, maybe Hugo a tiiiny bit more, but The Marvels is certainly a BEAUTIFUL book. I got it out from the library, a lovely new copy that probably no one else had touched yet, and I was floored by how beautiful physically it was. DAT GOLD FOIL DOH. <3

    • Chiara says:

      Your review was actually the one that inspired me to read it! :D

      His illustrations are incredible, and I’m constantly awed by them. I cannot even imagine how long it would have taken to draw them all! AND THAT GOLD FOIL IS THE BEST.

  3. Ohmygosh I need this book so bad now. I’ve read already a lot of reviews that praise this book so much. Awesome review Chiara <3

  4. I absolutely LOVED the Hugo Cabret movie and this one sounds really incredible! It’s just so completely gorgeous inside and out and I’m really impressed by how touching it can be through the images told. Thanks for the review Chiara!

  5. I agree. I need this book in my life. Now ish. BUT MY LIBRARY DOESN’T HAVE IT. SO I”M GONNA HAVE TO BUY IT. And you know how rarely I buy myself books.
    This is a beautiful review, Chiara, of what sounds like a beautiful book (that I somehow didn’t know was even being written until reviews started popping up just before I went offline, and SEE I BOOKMARKED YOURS LIKE I SAID I WOULD) and I am very much looking forward to reading it, especially as it truly does sound like a gorgeously crafted little beast. And if it has gilt edging and golden cover tones than I AM THERE. That is absolutely enough for me. I have also loved both Hugo and Wonderstruck (I liked the film, but didn’t feel it had the magic, so the opposite to you), too, so I really shouldn’t still be hesitating.

    • Chiara says:

      You totally do! And the price from TBD isn’t too bad. I saw it in store for like FORTY DOLLARS, WHICH IS RIDICULOUS.

      Thank you, thank you. <3 It is a really gorgeous book, and story. Just everything about it is incredibly beautiful. I hope you love it as much as I did!


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