[Review] The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman

The Complete Maus (Maus, #1-2)

Author: Art Spiegelman

Series: Bindup of both volumes

Publication Date: October 1st, 2003

Publisher: Penguin Books

Number of Pages: 296

Genre: Graphic Novels, Historical, Biography

Source: School library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


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.


One-Sentence Summary: An eccentric graphic artist interviews his eccentric father about his experiences and surviving the Holocaust to create a graphic novel.

*Coughs* I’m the black sheep again.

This book was another one that was, unfortunately, overhyped. It took me forever to finish this graphic novel. The novel itself felt like every other Holocaust story, which I know sounds awful. But the thing with books about the Holocaust, is that the topic easily gets overdone. It’s such a popular time period to focus on in historical fiction that the stories start to get repetitive and drag.

I don’t think I’m a visual person at all. Graphic novels and comic books are all supposed to be much faster reads than a novel, obviously because there are less words involved. But when I read this one, it took me over a month toe actually finish the novel. I feel like the images didn’t have much impact on me. I wasn’t affected by it at all. On the contrary, I found it kind of boring although the book itself portrayed many heartbreaking scenes. Maybe I’m just heartless and don’t have pity for these characters? I don’t know.

Some of the characters came off as really… annoying? That’s not exactly the best word to describe my feelings towards the characters but it’s pretty close. Vladek’s personality was easily explained; His frugal and often strange actions can be attributed to paranoia and deep distrust that he developed following the end of the war. I think that it’s a pretty accurate depiction of one victim of the Holocaust.

Vladek’s son on the other hand…. he felt immensely unlikable. I felt really disgusted when he wouldn’t really savor his mother’s journals or Holocaust photos because he simply wanted them for his book. The father would show him the pictures and the first words he say would be, “I HAVE GOT TO GET THESE FOR MY BOOK.” If I was there, I would have slapped him and told him to be polite. It felt disrespectful and irrelevant to the story. If anything, it made me respect the rest of the book less.

In terms of art, I found it okay. It was kind of quirky and had thick lines. There were chunky drawings and well-done facial expressions. It was easy to understand. But for me, as someone who likes to look at every single detail in each strip, it was kind of distracting. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels. I read manga, which, from my experience, usually has a lot less fine details involved and are a lot easier for me to read. The Complete Maus was a little hard for me to read at times. However, it’s a personal thing so I doubt that it’d be a huge problem for other readers.

Overall, The Complete Maus was a somewhat disappointing graphic novel. I was never full captured by the images or stories. I found most of the characters highly aggravating and much of the plot irrelevant or distracting. Some parts were well-done, but due to personal disinterest, I was unable to really enjoy this one. I think that had I finished it within a week, the book would have had a much higher rating. But since I had already disliked it, the long span of time it took me to read it only exacerbated the dislike.

2/5 Stars


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