Book Review Mashup #3: Graphic Novels
Maus I & Maus II
By: Art Spiegelman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust” (The New York Times).
Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.
Maus is a reread for me, and I absolutely loved it. I don't know if I enjoyed it more the first time or second time reading it. I loved the overall concept and the message that this book sent. How educational this comic was definitely baffled me. Usually comics are just for fun, and don’t have much depth to them, but this one was educational, moving, and thought-provoking. However, this comic did have some funny parts to it. The conversations between Art and his dad were hilarious. At the very end of both of these comics, I was on the edge of my seat, even though the book kind of spoiled itself. Overall, I would definitely recommend to anyone who would like to learn more about World War Two, World War Two or history fanatics, and people who like different types of comics.
American Born Chinese
By Gene Luen Yang
Jin Wang starts at a new school where he's the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn't want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he's in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee's annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny's reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He's ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there's no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They're going to have to find a way―if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.
I have never in my entire life read a book that I disliked as much as this one. The art style was absolutely not for me, which usually wouldn’t matter if I liked the characters or general plot, but this was not the case in this book. I didn’t connect or even find the characters interesting. I became so bored at some parts that I would just skip small portions of the book when they became so mind numbing. I also felt that portions of this text to be stereotypical and slightly racist, but I may have taken it too seriously. In conclusion, I would recommend this poorly constructed comic to absolutely no one.