Written by: Brian Selznick
Number of pages: 665
Average Rating: 3.88/5 stars
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Published: September 15, 2015
Read in March 2016
Summary according to Goodreads
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.
Unfortunately I did not enjoy this novel as much as his previous, nor did I find it to be as fast of a read. As per his other novels, the illustrations in this were breathtaking, and is something I have yet to see in any other middle-grade novel. I enjoyed the story of Billy Marvel much more than the latter one taking place in 1990, as the plot felt forced and never really picked up. The story of Billy was exciting and heartbreaking, and proves that a picture is worth a thousand words.
I appreciate the way this book is written and the story behind it, but at the same time I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. I found Joseph and his uncle Albert to be very boring, and only until the last 150 pages or so did it get slightly interesting. I didn't find there to be much character development in this story, which was quite disappointing. Joseph was an annoying character, that just left school and showed up to someone's house that he had never met before. His uncle Albert was strange (for good reasons later learned) and very boring. I had a hard time remembering that this story took place in the 1990s. And finally, Frankie, I could not stand due to sheer annoyance. This child knew no boundaries, and was very frustrating to read.
Overall, I was very disappointed with this read. I have been very busy with school, and this was not a good start to getting back into reading. This might be the last middle-grade story I read for a while, just because I found it so bland and unsatisfying. I am very glad I read this out of the library, since it is nearly $40CAN to buy it in stores, and would recommend that to anyone questioning on whether or not they want to read it.