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Boxers by Gene Luen Yang


by Gene Luen Yang

Other authors: Lark Pien (Colorist)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Boxers & Saints

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Yang tells a tale about becoming a Boxer in 1890's China. Simple yet moving graphic style. "Saints" is the companion novel which is somewhat symmetric to this novel where a young woman becomes a Chinese Christian victim of the Boxer movement. Yang uses mythic figures in dialog with a main character to illustrate inner dialog. In Saints, there is Joan of Arc. In "American Born Chinese" there is the Monkey King. In Boxers there are the operatic gods and the Chin Emperor. He is so easy to read. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
A quick read that highlights the Chinese Nationalists perspective of the Boxer rebellion. The main characters turn into gods (which is a little confusing) that fight the "foreign Devils". Plenty of morals at play in this one, I.e. Don't forsake your history for small uncertain triumphs. Draws for kids: quick read, Kung fu, violent, easy to understand. ( )
  rdwhitenack | Jul 2, 2015 |
An extraordinary work of graphic historical fiction. Yang brilliantly draws readers into the complex issues of a major historical episode in a sweeping story that is completely engrossing and accessible. Boxers is the first of a two-volume work. The second volume, Saints, tells a parallel story set against the same events. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
Chinese history is not the most popular subject in the Western world - most people might have heard of the Boxer rebellion from the end of the 19th century/beginning of the 20th but without too many details. Gene Luen Yang chooses the graphic novel format to tell the story of the rebellion - or it is probably better to tell two stories from the rebellion.

In the first volume of the two interlinked stories, the main protagonist is Little Bao, a Chinese boy that loves Chinese opera and as any other boy his age, loves to dream about what he sees. The life in a Chinese village at the end of the 19th century is hard and the nature throwing floods their way does not help much. This is the time when Christianity start taking root into China, replacing the old gods of the Chinese. The conflict is just starting and as it usual, the missionaries are way too busy showing the new way to have any respect for the old ways - they smash the old idols, they mock and ridicule the old ways and that does not sit very well with the Chinese population. Which is why the Boxer rebellion come to be at the end - it is an honest attempt of the poor villagers to try to expel the foreigners and the Chinese that listen to them - because they believe that all bad that is happening is because of them and their actions.

And in our story, Little Bao ends up being the reluctant leader of the kung fu trained men - with the help of old world magic and the old gods - changing into one of them, teaching people how to change into them - they all march on Peking. And in between, the author manages to sneak in some old Chinese legends - about heroes and gods in the old days. Knowing how the rebellion ends, you kinda know how it all will end - but it is as always the journey to it that is interesting. It is violent, bloody and miserable. And it is not only the men - the women also join in (they actually save the men's lives before anyone take them seriously but that is just usual for the time...) and the rebellion grow day after day - both in numbers and in cruelty. Christians are bad, they need to die - no matter that they are also people or women or children. Bao turns from someone that cares about people to someone that is ready to shut his internal voices and listen to the old Gods and order atrocities. And even if the art shows the old gods alive, it is up to the reader to decide how much of it is everyone's mind and hope and how much is real.

In a way, the journey of Bao from oppressed to oppressor is the center of the story. The story taps nicely into the folklore of the Chinese people to bring the old Gods to life - literally in that novel - in an attempt to turn the time back. Which as we all know is a futile endeavor. Bookmarking his journey are the two times he sees Vibiana - once whey both are innocent children and then again when they end up on the opposite sides of the rebellion. The misunderstanding of other is what brings the conflict - from both sides - if the Christian missionaries had respected the old believes, things would not have escalated. It's a novel about accepting the differences in other people, about the clash of religions and about tolerance. And about history and the choice between the past and the present that decides what the future will be.

And at the end of the book, the fate of Bao is never shown - you are left to guess. ( )
2 vote AnnieMod | Feb 15, 2015 |
Two companion books that tell the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China (1899-1900), an anti-imperialism and anti-Christian missionary movement, from opposite sides of the movement.

In Boxer, a foreign priest and his soldiers smash up Little Bao's peasant village. Little Bao learns the ancient magic of calling up the ancestor gods and leads a rebellion that eventually reaches Beijing. The story is violent, bloody, and does not have a happy ending.

In Saints, Vibiana is an unwanted and unappreciated girl in a neighboring village who converts to Christianity and finds some purpose in helping the foreign priest and his flock. She joins the fight against the Boxers. The story is violent, bloody, and does not have a happy ending.

Because of the violence, this is probably more suited to older audiences, though my ten year old read it and appreciated it. ( )
  sylliu | Dec 7, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gene Luen Yangprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pien, LarkColoristsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Steen, RobDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Venable, Colleen AFCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to the Original Art Night Crew
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Spring is my favorite time of year.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In 1898 China, Little Bao has had enough of foreign missionaries and soldiers robbing peasants, and he recruits an army of Boxers to fight to free China from its oppressors.

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