Book Review: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

TheCompleteMausCoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Genre: Graphic Novel, Non-fiction
Setting: Poland from the mid 1930s to 1944, and the United States, probably sometime around 1979
My copy came from: I borrowed this from my local library.

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Review: Stunning. Beautiful and haunting. The Complete Maus is a graphic novel, and the first graphic novel I’ve read. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and is truly an astounding work of importance. It is a non-fiction Holocaust account, but the story is told in a way that is different from other books. Since it’s a graphic novel, you have the black-and-white artwork of the cartoons, but Art Spiegelman has also drawn his characters as animals. The Jews are mice, and the Nazis are cats, and having these animal pictures, but human attributes, and a very real story really puts a different spin on the details of the Holocaust and I found the way this was told truly spellbinding and different. It forces you to look at the Holocaust with new eyes and really highlights the cruelty and senselessness of the Holocaust.

To die, it’s easy…but you have to struggle for life!

While this is a Holocaust book, there is also a story here of a father and son, as Artie talks with his father, Vladek, about his memories and his story. I found Artie and Vladek’s relationship very realistic, and I loved reading their interactions. Vladek is certainly a character, and the image of him on his exercise bike is one of the lasting images I have from this book. He just felt so very real, and I was very surprised to feel that connected to a character in a graphic novel.

I feel so inadequate trying to reconstruct a reality that was worse than my darkest dreams.

The one small, tiny issue I had with the book is that I felt it ended too abruptly. I wanted just a bit more at the end to wind things up. Perhaps I just wanted to spend more time with these characters, but all in all, this book blew me away and I really loved it.

Bottom Line: A must read. Stunning, beautiful, and haunting.

Links to The Complete Maus:
Amazon **this is an affiliate link, which means that if you click and purchase something, I get a small commission**

Have you read The Complete Maus? Did you love the father-son relationship? How about Mala – did she have good intentions or was she just out for money? Are you a fan of graphic novels? Any I should read?


4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

  1. All I can say to this review is YES!!!! I loved this book, I agree, it was simply stunning. Everything about it was remarkable- I loved the style for the artwork and the realistic characters and relationship was so beautifully done. and yes, I agree about the ending- though I did wonder if that was due to his father passing away before he finished (I don’t know though) Amazing review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I really loved this book so much! Oh, yeah I can see that reason for the abrupt ending now. Hmm. I really loved the father/son relationship. The pictures and the story were so well done – the artwork with the matter-of-fact writing was very compelling, and it just made me think of things a little differently. It’s one thing to read something, but to also see a picture of it at the same time is very powerful.

      Liked by 1 person

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