I actually found Maus to be an overall satisfying read. I found Vladeck’s story of survival very compelling. Before reading Maus, I had only heard that Auschwitz was bad; I had never really heard a personal account of it, let alone seen an illustrated retelling of someone’s experience of it. I think that the author made the right move by narrating the story through Vladeck as if he were recalling the experience, and at times it even felt like I was hearing the story from old Vladeck himself.
Now I do have a few criticisms for the author as well. Some people might think that it was such a clever idea that he depict all of the Jewish characters as mice, and the Germans as cats(because, you know…cats chase mice), but I personally think he was just trying to find a way out of drawing more detailed characters. There were quite a few scenes where most of the mice characters looked the same, even males and females. I sometimes ended up reading some of Art’s words in his wife’s voice, Vladeck’s words in Anja’s voice, and that would throw me off a bit. I also like cats, and have never liked seeing them portrayed as cruel or evil, but that’s beside the point.
I also think it was a bad idea for Art to also put his “Prisoner on the Hell Planet” mini-comic in the novel. Although I thought it was cool, I couldn’t empathize with any of Vladeck’s anticipation or joy when he finally reunited with Anja again near the end, because I was like, “She’s just going to commit suicide and cause her son so much grief…” So I think that kind of ruined it for me.
I’ve noticed that with every Holocaust survival story that I’ve heard, they always find some little way to get around the system. They seem to manage to do something like smuggle in extra food or make friends with the guards or officers, and that always helps them in some way. However, I’m sure that these are more…unique stories. I doubt that a majority of the Auschwitz prisoners were able to establish special connections or find ways to circumvent the system, and I’ve never heard any stories from anybody that had no outside food, no special relationships with the officers, nor any other stuff like that; but I suppose those unfortunate enough to be dealt that small of a hand probably died during the march out of Auschwitz back to Germany or while they were stuffed in the train cars for several days straight, since the whole time they were the most malnourished and therefore the weakest prisoners.
All-in-all, I don’t regret having read Maus. It offers a real inside perspective of the Holocaust, and the emotions that the survivor felt are passed on to the reader very well. Who knows? I might even keep it on my bookshelf after we’re all done with it.