Series: Boxers & Saints
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Graphic Novel
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.
Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers--commoners trained in kung fu--who fight to free China from "foreign devils."
Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils"--Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.
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Oh my gosh, you guys, this was so amazing. I don't normally read a lot of graphic novels but, because of the Young Adult Lit class I'm taking this quarter at college, I've been expanding what I read. Not only was this an awesomely illustrated and designed graphic novel, it was a depiction of a war that took place in 1898 in China. I enjoyed myself immensely while reading and really felt like I was learning a lot at the same time.
Generally, I don't pick up books with the goal to learn or expand my knowledge. More often, I decide to read for the sake of enjoyment. With this book, while I did enjoy it, felt a lot more like I was learning something. If you're anything like me and attended public high school, you'll know that the history taught is most often just repeated American history. Because of that, I had almost no previous information regarding this struggle that happened in China. This graphic novel really opened my eyes to the struggles people faced and the controversy surrounding religion there. And it did it in such a creative way. The images and characters in the novel were so vivid and well depicted. Despite the magical quality of the story and the fact that it takes places years and years ago, I connected with it so easily.
This illustrations you guys . . . they were so wonderful. The colors and the way the characters were drawn were so amazing. I think it's so important for books like this to be accessible to all readers. History is so often something that can be a bit dense, particularly to teens and young adults (at least in my experience). Yang really flipped that idea around for me. I found myself so immersed in this story and the history that spurred it.
Not only was this novel accessible to all readers . . . it didn't sugar coat things. History is not often pretty. There's a lot of hard times and really gruesome situations that are too often swept under the rug. This book did an amazing job of presenting what actually happened without censoring it. I appreciated that aspect so much.
This graphic novel was absolutely amazing. It cast light on a historical event I didn't know much about and did it in a way that was accessible and uncensored. The characters were relatable, the illustrations were beautiful, and the story line was engaging and interesting. I'm excited to read more from this author!