Today’s review is a little unusual for me as I’ve never reviewed a graphic novel before. I had to read this for one of my uni courses in first year. It’s also on the reading list again for one of my potential classes next semester so I decided I would reread it because I loved it so much the first time I read it. In case you’ve never heard of it, I’ll give a quick summary – it’s Art Spiegelman’s retelling of his fathers experience during the second world war and how he survived the Holocaust, but all the characters are drawn as animals. It has a lot of triggering content in it, so be warned.But anyway, let’s get started.
Title: The Complete Maus (Maus #1&2)
Author: Art Spiegelman
Genres: Graphic Novel, Non-fiction, Historical, War, Holocaust
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: October 2nd 2003
Pages: 296 pages
When I Read It: February 10th 2019
Goodreads Rating: 4.55 Stars
Goodreads Description: Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II – the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler’s Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival – and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.
My Goodreads Review: This was the first graphic novel that I have ever read. It was also biographical which I thought was interesting. I cannot say that it was a easy going subject to ease me into the genre but I don’t care because I adored it anyway. The combination between satirical humor and horrifically depressing stories was nail-biting. The juxtaposition between the modern and the historical was also an incredible touch. I found myself crying multiple times throughout. I could’t recommend this enough if you are interested in a heart-wrenching story, told in a unique and different manner which results in an incredibly original take on the genre which is often shrouded in controversy.
After re-reading my short review which I wrote at the time, I don’t really know how else I can explain the incredibleness of this book. Spiegelman found a way to tackle such horrific subject matter in a way that made it enjoyable and digestible for the reader. He inserted humorous scenes between himself and his father to break up the traumatic parts of Vladek’s story. I can’t put into words how much it affected me, it wasn’t just another read for class that I would hammer out an essay for and forget about – it stuck with me. Nothing shows the value for a book more than that. I did write an essay on it – you don’t want to read that…it’s kind of dull because I had to focus on answering the question and I couldn’t focus on the emotion that the book had caused me. I love how he depicts the different groups of people as different animals. It takes off some of the pressure around the topic while also providing a really great metaphor of Cat and Mouse. It also ties in really well with a graphic novel which have a stereotype of being jovial and childish which the animals carry through. It’s only once you read deeper into it that you see how many layers everything has and how incredibly well throughout out every choice is so that readers actually take something away from the read like I did and don’t just pass it off as another Holocaust survivors tale.
I genuinely cannot describe how much I adored this read. I didn’t go into reading it with high expectations – I’d never read a graphic novel before and I definitely had preconceived judgement on it for that alone. I also am not the biggest fan of non-fiction which put me off reading it – I’m not sure I would have picked it up if I wasn’t made to by my course. Which is partly why I think I enjoyed it so much. It caught me off gaurd and literally swept me off my feet – throwing every single emotion unde the sun at me. It is truly an incredible read! You just have to pick it up, no matter your ideas about the genre or the subject matter or the fact it’s a graphic novel. It transcends all of that. 5/5 STARS EASILY!
If any of you have read it, let’s chat about it below! I need people to rave with about this! I hope you enjoyed this review – even if it was slightly shorter. Have a good day and stay safe!