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Saints by Gene Luen Yang
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A parallel story and companion volume to Yang's extraordinary Boxers. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
The second volume of the series that started in Boxers (or a companion volume of Boxers - it seems like both descriptions would be correct) follows the life of Vibiana - the girl that Bao met twice in his life. A fourth daughter of a Chinese family, she is never given a name - she becomes known as Four-girl and does not get much love in her family - being called devil and death (because of the significance of the number 4 in the Chinese beliefs (being born on the fourth day of the fourth month does not help much either) she resolves to become a devil - after all everyone believes her to be one. And why not do that by becoming a Christian - they are the devils, they feed her every time when she go there and she can even sleep while they tell her the old stories - no chores to be done, noone to bother her.

And while she goes towards the religion for all the wrong reasons, she starts seeing Joan of Arc (even if it takes a while for her to understand who she is). And while we are following the story of the little Chinese girl to her new life, we also see the path of Joan from the first meeting with the angels to the final meeting with the fire. The timeline of this novel is the same as the one in Boxers - but for the latter part of he novel it is the other side of the conflict - the refugees that Bao do not kill on the train are showing up in the village where Vibiana is and we see that with her eyes; the church set on fire is not full with the people that we already know. And from the eyes of Vibiana, we can see the reality of the old gods and how much of their transformation was real.

Every war has two sides and this pair of novels demonstrate exactly this in the most heartbreaking way possible. Boxers can be read on its own but Saints rely on the knowledge you have from Boxers and even if it can work on its own, you are better off reading it after Boxers.

The final conflict would always be between Vibiana and Bao and leaves the reader to decide who wins - the one who dies or the one who lives. Because by the time it happens, the world had gone grey - black and white had not just switched a few times but had mingled - because noone is innocent in all this - not the girl that just wanted to belong; not the boy who just wanted his life to be as before.

There are some more details that tie the story of the two protagonists together - Saints is written to add to the tapestry of Boxers. And the two volumes together show a story that the world does not see to be able to learn (and probably will not) - if there is war, there are people caught in it. And what you believe to be true is just part of the story. ( )
3 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 |
Very intense, like Boxers, but Yang's work is superb, and this is no exception. A really interesting look at the Boxer Rebellion in China--make sure you read both Boxers and Saints. ( )
  What_Katie_Read | Dec 1, 2014 |
A counter-view of the story told in Boxers. Yang has another triumph here. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
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Dedicated to the San Jose Chinese Catholic Community
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I am my mother's fourth daughter, born on the fourth day of the fourth month, and the only one of her children to survive past a year.
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Vibiana, an unwanted fourth child, finds her name and identity in Christianity, but with the Boxer Rebellion in full swing and Chinese Christians facing death, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her religion or her country.

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