Watch the movie
before you read the book. Illogical! Not really. The movie is fantastic (and completely different plot-wise from the book). The movie takes out all the pedantry and brings in all the soap opera. So, when I read the book, I had all these emotions (ridicule for Dirry-Moir, spite for Josiana, wistful love for Dea & Gwynplaine). Basically, I had relationships with these characters. And after I started reading, after all the soliloquies that are so Hugo, I just fell more in love with this book. This is one for the introverts! This is one for the outcasts!
There are some pet phrases of Hugo's that I had to laugh at. The comparison of everything to a tiger? OK. Hugo is like the Sir Mix-a-lot of foreign phrases. He likes big ones (and he doesn't lie, you 19th century brothers can't deny...).
This quickly became my favorite book. It's humorous and dark and rich.