The Complete Maus
by Art Spiegelman
This... This isn't an easy one to to review, because it's really hard to judge it as a graphic novel -- it's too difficult to separate the art work/writing from the subject matter. But, I'll try.Summary: 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.
When it comes to what this story is about, I'd give it 5 stars out of 5, because it's a brutally honest story and it's a story that deserves to be told and should not be forgotten. So many stories of the Holocaust died with its victims...the survivors stories should live on because it's a part of history that needs to be remembered.
So, as far as that goes, the book is fantastic and worthy of all its praise. Not only for Art's portrayal of his families story but for showing what happened after -- so many stories about the Holocaust end when the war did, they don't show the way it haunts people, the way it changed them, the way the ripples of it are still having an impact on the lives of their children or the grandchildren. But this one did, this one showed that and it often did it in such subtle ways, like by showing day-to-day conversations he had with his father.
As for the art work -- honestly, it wasn't my cup of tea. I really appreciate what it did with the cats/mice thing, it was clever and creative and perfectly fitting but it was often hard to distinguish one character from another (perhaps that was intentional, I don't know) and because the book was so long and it was all these black and white panels...it's a bit much.
I also wasn't fond of the way it jumped back and forth between his fathers story of the war to scenes of him talking to/about his father -- I understand the importance of those scenes (as explained above) but it didn't make for a good reading experience and was the main reason it took me so long to get through this book...it felt kind of like being interrupted while reading, only it was the book you're reading that does the interrupting by abruptly pulling you from Vladek's story over and over again (and yet it wouldn't have been the same story without doing that).
Basically, the book was fantastic but it just wasn't my kind of thing because the format of it in general wasn't my kind of thing...but I respect and appreciate what it was trying to accomplish. I'm just more of a novel girl I guess, graphic novels rarely have the same impact for me. I am glad I read the book though because, like I said, it's something that shouldn't ever be forgotten.
Anyway, I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5.