Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang

Last month I wrote about reading the graphic novel Boxers, by Gene Luen Yang. This month I was able to read it's companion, Saints. Boxers and Saints is basically one graphic novel in two volumes. Together they tell the intertwined story of a boy and girl on opposing sides of the Boxer Rebellion in China, at the end of the 19th century.

Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang

Boxers is told from the point of a young boy named Little Bao. After groups of foreign missionaries and soldiers ransack his small town and destroy a statue of the earth god, Tu Di Gong, Little Bao decides he needs to take action. After much training and harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese Gods, he eventually becomes the leader of "The Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists," whose goal is to take out the "foreign devils" as well as the "secondary devils," who are the Chinese that joined them by converting to Christianity.

While going around killing people because they're Christian is obviously not ok, it's almost hard to hate Little Bao. He really believes he's doing what's right for China, as he is propelled by the belief that he was fighting in the name of their Gods and Ancestors.

Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang
My copies were from the library, as usual. Hahah.

Saints is told from the point of an unnamed girl from the same village. She's called "Four Girl," because she was the fourth daughter born. For that same reason, she is also ignored and unwanted by her family. While it may have began for the wrong reasons, she finds solace and friendship in Christianity. She is determined to be baptized, with one of the driving forces being that she will be able to choose a name for herself - Vibiana.

While Little Bao believes he's harnessing ancient powers, Vibiana has visions of Joan of Arc, and hopes to attain the same glory. As China is a dangerous place for Christians at the time, her and Little Bao's path eventually cross.

I really like reading books with different perspectives, because there's usually more to someones side of the story than you're led to believe. The author, Gene Luen Yang, did it so well here that he makes it hard to even pick a side. Vibiana and Little Bao are both enemies in the others story, and both characters come off as likable, even if you might not agree with what they're doing.

Since these are graphic novels, the artwork plays a big part. The colors in Boxers are more vibrant, while in Saints they are more muted and almost dreary. I didn't really like that at first, but later on it felt very fitting.

From Boxers (click to enlarge)

From Saints (click to enlarge)

Have you read these books? Maybe you've read something else by Gene Luen Yang? I also like his other book, American Born Chinese! I love discussing books, so let me know what you think!

20 comments:

  1. I have never read any of these but this seems like something my son would be totally into.

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    1. My younger brother really enjoys these types of things, too!

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  2. I've never been into graphic novels, but the story behind those seems really interesting! Especially how the artwork is so different!

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    1. I definitely recommend it! It's not your average graphic novel ;)

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  3. I haven't ever read a graphic novel, but I know a few people who do. I will let them know about these or keep it a secret and consider them for gifts! Thanks!!!

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  4. -this looks so interesiting! i have a friend who loves this kind of books, i will totally recommend her this post!
    xo
    Orly
    coffeebeansandhighheels.weebly.com

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  5. It's summer vacations time for and I'm looking for more books to read, this suggestion will help ;)

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  6. This isn't something up my alley but I know my husband enjoys these style of books now and again!

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  7. As an artist I am drawn to the fabulous illustrations of these books.

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    1. They're great, right? I'm glad you like them!

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  8. This one sounds pretty cool. I like books that teach a little history.

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    1. Me too! Which is weird because I hated reading about history in school, hahah!

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  9. always looking for reading material for my students...thanks for sharing..

    Happy Saturday Sharefest

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  10. Excellent choices - I love how graphic novels have changed (or maybe I'm just discovering them) and they can be literary and historical and wonderful. :)

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  11. My boyfriend would love these! Thanks for sharing with Hump Day Happenings.

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