A book review of The Marvels by Brain Selznick.
Video From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwDThu5n9pY
The Marvels was published in 2015 by Scholastic Press and is a middle grade novel told with both beautifully crafted illustrations and proses (the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing- Merriam Webster's definition). This is not Selznick's first novel, as he has written and illustrated several others including The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck, and The Houdini Box. He has also illustrated for others fellow authors including Andrew Clements (Frindle, The School Story, and The Landry News), who is one of my all time favorite children's authors and Barbara Kerley (The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins), who I have yet to read anything from. The Marvels did not disappoint when it came to evoking the true Brain Selznick flare seen within all his novels, one that seamlessly connects its illustrations with its written format, however, the overall storyline was not as enchanting as those told within the pages of Hugo and Wonderstruck. While reading this novel, I found myself comparing The Marvels to Selznick's previous works, a booming voice within my own head, one I wished could have silenced, but sadly I could not, making this review more judgmental than pure and honest.
The Marvels by Brain Selznick follows (1990) our main character, Joseph Jervis, who is a boy seeking a place of refuge, a home due to the fact that he is dissatisfied with his current life. This parents love to travel making Joseph's life uncomfortable and unpleasable because he never stays in one place for too long. This leads to Joseph's ultimate decision of running away from the life he is familiar with including life at the St. Anthony's boarding school and his parent's constant uprooting. Joseph ends up running away to his astranged Uncle Albert's estate on 18 Folgate Street in London, where he not only learns about his family's past history, but also makes a friend with Albert's neighbors daughter, Frankie. However, things aren't always as they seem, when a story of Billy Marvel, a 1766 survivor of a horrendous ship wreck and the stories related to Billy's families legacy, expanding five-generations of theather actors come out, many questions begin to arise.
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This novel was a fairly quick read despite its length (667 pages), mainly due to the 400 plus pages of detailed illustrations, leaving a merely 200 page tale in proses. A story that interweaves a tale from 1766 to a tale from the 1990's was a very interesting concept from the start despite its flaws, as I found the pay off of this novel to be quite dull. However, I won't spoil you for tantalizing details, especially for those who have yet to read this novel. What was also suprising about this novel was the way Selznick was able to include an under the radar LGBTQ character, Selznick is gay himself, so it was interesting to see his take on gender identities. I typically don't like reading books with LGBTQ character due to my beliefs and christian background (not at all stating intolerance or unright dishate), based on my own personal perferances, nonethless, I found Selznick take to be quite enjoyable. This was because the LGBTQ narrative was not overally emphasized and could be easily missed by younger reader, but for those who are interested I recommend focusing in on Uncle Albert's dialogue. However, I do appalude Selznick for incoperating diverse characters into most if not all his novels. In conclusion, I would give this novel a four out of five stars, it was an enjoyable read, but I wouldn't consider this novel to be as fabulous as my favorite Brain Selznick book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a book I highly recommend, alongside its movie.