The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon: Book Review

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Cover of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

3 Stars

Joe Kavalier is a Jew living in Prague just as the Nazis are taking control of the city in the late 1930’s. With the aid of his escape artist teacher, Joe smuggles himself out of the country and all the way to New York City. Joe is just what his cousin, Sam Clay, has been looking for. Sam is a New York boy with a love of comic books and a huge imagination. Unfortunately, his artistry doesn’t live up to his stories. Joe immediately gets a feel for the comic book form and the two form the comic book duo, Kavalier and Clay. Through the medium of the comic book, Joe takes on the Nazis years before America gets into the war. He also saves up money to try to bring the rest of his family to safety. Despite his best intentions, Joe lives his life while trying to fight the bureaucratic forces of Germany and America to bring his family to safety.

I was a little torn about the rating for this one. It was four stars right up until America finally entered the war (about 2/3 of the way through). After that, I just didn’t care anymore. I can’t explain why without giving anything away. So three stars it is.

I liked the characters of Sam and Joe. They were well-developed and believable. I don’t know much about comic books, but I liked the chapters that gave the setup for their more popular comic book heroes. I read in the praise for the book that it’s supposed to be funny. I must have not gotten those parts. There were a few parts that amused me, but mostly I found the book to be quietly heart-breaking.

Reviewed August 31, 2008

Read an excerpt.

Find author Michael Chabon on his website.

Buy The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay at

Friday Flashback Reviews, a feature at The Introverted Reader

Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I think this one will stick with me for a while, but overall, I was just disappointed at the end.
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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