The Marvels is one of the most beautiful hardback books I have ever seen; the shiny gold-edged pages, the foiled cover and the illustrations make this stand out on any bookshelf. However, I found this book a little underwhelming.
I have previously read and loved Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret and I was expecting to really enjoy this one too but I had a few problems with it.
I liked how the story was split with the past being shown in illustrations and the 1990s story being told through text but I felt that the text part was a little lacking. It seemed very slow to me and the reveal at the end was extremely underwhelming. On the other hand, I can’t fault the illustrations and the way that Selznick manages to make you care about a set of characters without even using words is incredible. I enjoyed the fairy tale atmosphere that this book had.
The protagonist Joseph was irritating and I didn’t particularly like him as a main character but I think that Selznick did a brilliant job of discussing tough topics such as homosexuality and AIDs in what is essentially a children’s book. That is the thing I have to bear in mind; this book is intended for readers much younger than me and I think that the problems I had with it would not be problems to a younger reader. I would love to keep this on my shelf to share in the future but unfortunately this didn’t have the magic and impact that this author’s previous books has had on me.
3 out of 5 stars!