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Saints by Gene Luen Yang
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A counter-view of the story told in Boxers. Yang has another triumph here. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
Fourth daughter to a family who doesn't want her, Vibiana believes that she is truly evil and joins the group that everyone calls "devils," the Christians. This is a companion book to the author's book Boxers and describes the Boxer Rebellion from another angle, although it's still from a Chinese perspective. Although I was initially a bit confused by Vibiana's visions of Jeanne d'Arc (since Boxers allowed for a metaphoric interpretation of the supernatural aspects and this one didn't), it made sense for that character, considering what happens to her in the end (we find this out in Boxers, although I wish we didn't). Good companion to Boxers, but I wouldn't recommend it on its own. ( )
  -Eva- | Sep 12, 2014 |
Good read. Look forward to reading the other half, Boxers. ( )
  fighterofevil | Aug 26, 2014 |
In SAINTS, Four-Girl is the unwanted, unappreciated daughter of a Chinese family. Repeatedly called names and accused of being a devil, she vows to become one, and begins to learn the "foreign devils'" teachings. She learns about Christianity from Dr. Won (while enjoying Mrs. Won's cookies), and is baptized (her new name is Vibiana), to the horror of her own family. She runs away with Father Bey to a larger town, where she helps in an orphanage. She has repeated visions of Joan of Arc and decides that her fate is to become a woman warrior as well, to fight the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist, an anti-Western Chinese group to which, she discovers, some of her family belongs. When the Society and the Red Lantern attack Vibiana's village, she is killed.

Like many younger children of Chinese families, especially daughters - at least in literature - Four-Girl is made to feel that she does not really have a place with her own family. Though she finds a place with the Christians, she never seems fully committed to the faith itself, nor does she pay attention to or understand the stories. When confronted by her family member (brother? cousin?) on the other side of the conflict, she is shaken when he uses the phrase "make China whole," which echoes Joan's mission. Is Vibiana on the wrong side of the conflict after all? She does not get a chance to find out.

I am not the most skilled reader of graphic novels - I don't spend as much time "reading" the pictures as I should - and when it came to the fighting at the end, I was unclear about who was who. I also felt that the larger context was missing, or simplified (traditional Chinese vs. Christians). Perhaps BOXERS will provide additional context.

Quotes

"Jesus - he's the acupuncture victim?"
"What...?! ...You mean the man on the cross? Yes." (35)

"I don't need stories right now! You know what I do need? A straight answer!" (155) ( )
  JennyArch | Jun 26, 2014 |
Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel set about the Boxer Rebellion in China told from the perspective of a young man who becomes a rebel leader and a young woman who converts to Christianity and stands against the rebellion. I loved Boxers, but was less enamored with Saints. Boxers felt like a full story, showing the history of foreign colonial contact with the Chinese and fleshing out motivations for its characters. I loved the artwork, especially the Chinese gods that the rebels envisioned themselves transforming into; I also loved the author's decision to depict all foreign speech in meaningless scribble while the Chinese dialogue was written in English. This heightened the reader's identification with the Chinese rebel perspective because like the Chinese villagers, the reader literally has no idea what the foreign missionaries and soldiers are saying and must judge them solely based on their actions.

Saints, which is about 1/3 the size of Boxers, definitely felt like a sidenote. It focuses on a girl who is unwanted, called a devil, vows to be the most devilish devil she can be, and decides that aligning herself with the so-called "foreign devils" by converting to Christianity is the most evil thing she can do. Unlike the main character in Boxers, who rises to the status of prominent rebel leader fairly quickly, she struggles throughout her book to find a purpose and seems like a bystander in her own story. This might have been intentional, as Yang in both books draws attention to the male warrior's fear of contamination by women - whose "Yin" will weaken their fighting spirit - and their attitudes that women can't really contribute in a meaningful way to society. But the female character's general listlessness, combined with the shorter narrative, made this perspective feel like more of an afterthought to the "real" story presented in Boxers. I am posting the combined review on the bookpages for both volumes, because they are intended to be read as a set. ( )
  fannyprice | Jun 15, 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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