Customer Reviews for

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Amazing certainly describes Kavalier & Clay

If you want to indulge yourself in Escapism at its fullest, definitely read "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay". This book is so spell-binding, you will sometimes forget you are reading a work of fiction. The characters come to life on the pages of the book, as ...
If you want to indulge yourself in Escapism at its fullest, definitely read "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay". This book is so spell-binding, you will sometimes forget you are reading a work of fiction. The characters come to life on the pages of the book, as well as in the comic books Joe and Sammy write. At times you will sympathize with Joe, then yell at Anapol, be mystified by Rosa, and hope for Tommy. All in all, this is an utterly fascinating book! Be prepared to have a dictionary near you at all times!

posted by 775992 on January 19, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Good main narrative, likeable characters, but way too fragmented

Amazing Adventures is a big, sprawling story about two Jewish comic book artists living in 1940s New York City, cousins Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay. Joe is an apprentice magician and Houdini aficionado who uses his skills to escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and ...
Amazing Adventures is a big, sprawling story about two Jewish comic book artists living in 1940s New York City, cousins Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay. Joe is an apprentice magician and Houdini aficionado who uses his skills to escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and arrive in America. His cousin Sammy, a native Brooklynite, is a small kid with a gimpy leg and vast imagination. Sammy quickly befriends Joe and shares with him his enthusiasm for comic books. With Sammy's ideas and Joe's natural artistic talent, they begin creating their own successful comics, including The Escapist, a superhero who 'comes to the rescue of those who toil in the chains of tyranny and injustice' and represents Sammy's desire to be strong and Joe's hatred of Nazism. Escapism is one of the main themes, and probably the only theme that holds together well in this book. Joe escapes from the Nazis and later tries to escape from his grief and responsibilities. Sammy escapes into marriage to hide his true desires, and his wife Rosa escapes into her work (inking romance comics) to forget the man she really loves and believes is lost (Joe). And comic books themselves represent an escape. But the other themes disparately never link up. The plot twists, without any reason or closure, so it feels like nothing is happening. The book plugs along solidly in the first half, but then quickly falls apart before the reader feels any satisfaction. The teenage boys (to whom the book devotes 400 pages to) suddenly age by years every chapter. Suddenly, inexplicably, Joe is a WWII stationed in Antarctica; a story that begins out of nowhere and ends just as it gets interesting. We learn the fate of Sammy's lover (the development of their relationship of which took 100 pages) in one sentence. 12 years suddenly passes and we are introduced to Rosa and Sammy's (nay Joe's) 12-year old son. It seems Chabon has a lot of ideas, and rushes to start one before finishing another. Interesting events do take place, but because they aren't fully fleshed out they seem disconnected and pointless. Another problem is Chabon's own superfluous style. Everything has to be described with long metaphors; sometimes the simplest declaration is drawn out to a page or two, making Amazing Adventures a very long and arduous read. That, coupled with his chunky, clunky storyline, makes this book, weighing in at 656 pages, extremely frustrating. I can see how this book could become popular. In contains a well-researched, nostalgic look at old-school New York life, historical references, and a lot of emotion and romance. The main narrative - two boys creating a superhero to compensate for their physical and political desires - is very appealing. But after finally putting this book down, all I could think of was: 'So?'

posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2002

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2002

    Good main narrative, likeable characters, but way too fragmented

    Amazing Adventures is a big, sprawling story about two Jewish comic book artists living in 1940s New York City, cousins Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay. Joe is an apprentice magician and Houdini aficionado who uses his skills to escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and arrive in America. His cousin Sammy, a native Brooklynite, is a small kid with a gimpy leg and vast imagination. Sammy quickly befriends Joe and shares with him his enthusiasm for comic books. With Sammy's ideas and Joe's natural artistic talent, they begin creating their own successful comics, including The Escapist, a superhero who 'comes to the rescue of those who toil in the chains of tyranny and injustice' and represents Sammy's desire to be strong and Joe's hatred of Nazism. Escapism is one of the main themes, and probably the only theme that holds together well in this book. Joe escapes from the Nazis and later tries to escape from his grief and responsibilities. Sammy escapes into marriage to hide his true desires, and his wife Rosa escapes into her work (inking romance comics) to forget the man she really loves and believes is lost (Joe). And comic books themselves represent an escape. But the other themes disparately never link up. The plot twists, without any reason or closure, so it feels like nothing is happening. The book plugs along solidly in the first half, but then quickly falls apart before the reader feels any satisfaction. The teenage boys (to whom the book devotes 400 pages to) suddenly age by years every chapter. Suddenly, inexplicably, Joe is a WWII stationed in Antarctica; a story that begins out of nowhere and ends just as it gets interesting. We learn the fate of Sammy's lover (the development of their relationship of which took 100 pages) in one sentence. 12 years suddenly passes and we are introduced to Rosa and Sammy's (nay Joe's) 12-year old son. It seems Chabon has a lot of ideas, and rushes to start one before finishing another. Interesting events do take place, but because they aren't fully fleshed out they seem disconnected and pointless. Another problem is Chabon's own superfluous style. Everything has to be described with long metaphors; sometimes the simplest declaration is drawn out to a page or two, making Amazing Adventures a very long and arduous read. That, coupled with his chunky, clunky storyline, makes this book, weighing in at 656 pages, extremely frustrating. I can see how this book could become popular. In contains a well-researched, nostalgic look at old-school New York life, historical references, and a lot of emotion and romance. The main narrative - two boys creating a superhero to compensate for their physical and political desires - is very appealing. But after finally putting this book down, all I could think of was: 'So?'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Not a compelling read . . .

    Interesting subject, but this book did not hold my interest. It could have been a lot shorter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2001

    Very Mixed Emotions

    I found this book to be the ultimate page turner. In this particular case, I don't know if that's good or bad. It really made me want to see how it would end. On the other hand, Chabon's descriptives were, in most cases, painfully long & unnecessary; in many cases offensive. This book could be at least 200 pages shorter. However, the concept, characters and story were wonderful. It was written as if it was a true story. There were footnotes of very specific facts regarding the characters and their work. Yet it's fiction. I found this confusing. If it is based on fact, I wish there was some mention of who/what it is based on so I could research it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2000

    another episode

    The problem with this book is that huge chunks of it (precisely every other chapter, for a good long while) are, lego-like, completely detachable from the central (and completely charming) narrative of two teenage boys dreaming up a superhero. Writing these chapters and polishing them for the purpose of publishing them in the New Yorker and elsewhere as stand-alone stories is of course the discretion of the author, but when the time comes to make them part of a larger novel, the author can't simply plop them there and write around them (Richard Powers' 'Plowing the Dark' is a much more pronounced recent example). That having been said, I should hasten to point out that even these fistulae READ extremely well. And the main narrative is wonderful, completely page-turning. And it's very much a novel of New York, which is always nice when it can be pulled off. The huge surge in popular comics in America in the late 30s and 40s is, in its weird, quirky way, an epic subject - I guess I just wish the author had decided to concentrate more wholly on it.

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    Posted December 30, 2009

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    Posted November 14, 2008

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    Posted September 7, 2009

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    Posted December 23, 2012

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    Posted July 19, 2010

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