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Boxers (Boxers & Saints) [Kindle Edition]

Gene Luen Yang
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

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.


Boxers & Saints is an innovative new graphic novel in two volumes - the parallel stories of two young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang brings his clear-eyed storytelling and trademark magical realism to the complexities of the Boxer Rebellion and lays bare the foundations of extremism, rebellion, and faith.


Discover the other side of the Boxer Rebellion in Saints - the companion volume to Boxers.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Acclaimed graphic novelist Yang brings his talents to historical fiction in these paired novels set during China's Boxer Rebellion (1899-1900). In Boxers, life in Little Bao's peaceful rural village is disrupted when "foreign devils"-a priest and his phalanx of soldiers-arrive. The foreigners behave with astonishing arrogance, smashing the village god, appropriating property, and administering vicious beatings for no reason. Little Bao and his older brothers train in kung fu and swordplay in order to defend against them, and when Little Bao learns how to tap into the power of the Chinese gods, he becomes the leader of a peasant army, eventually marching to Beijing. Saints follows a lonely girl from a neighboring village. Unwanted by her family, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name until she converts to Catholicism and is baptized-by the very same priest who bullies Little Bao's village. Four-Girl, now known as Vibiana, leaves home and finds fulfillment in service to the Church, while Little Bao roams the countryside committing acts of increasing violence as his army grows. Mysticism plays a part in both stories, and Yang's spare, clean drawing style makes it clear that Vibiana's visits from Joan of Arc and Bao's invocation of the powerful Chinese gods are very real to these characters. The juxtaposition of these opposing points of view, both of them sympathetic, makes for powerful, thought-provoking storytelling about a historical period that is not well known in the West.-Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MDα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In American Born Chinese (2006), Yang spoke to the culture clash of Chinese American teen life. In Boxers—the first volume in a two-book set, concluding with Saints (2013)—about the Boxer Rebellion at the end of the nineteenth century in China, he looses twin voices in harmony and dissonance from opposite sides of the bloody conflict. Boxers follows a young man nicknamed Little Bao, who reacts to religious and cultural oppression by leading the uprising from the provinces to Peking, slaughtering “foreign devils” and soldiers along the way. Between the two books, Yang ties tangled knots of empathy where the heroes of one become the monsters of the other. Little Bao and his foil from Saints, Four-Girl, are drawn by the same fundamental impulses—for community, family, faith, tradition, purpose—and their stories reflect the inner torture that comes when those things are threatened. Yang is in superb form here, arranging numerous touch points of ideological complexity and deeply plumbing his characters’ points of view. And in an homage to the driving power of stories themselves, Bao is captivated by visions sprung from lore: the spirits he believes possess him and his fighters. Much blood is spilled as Little Bao marches toward his grim fate, which is even more unsettling given that Yang hasn’t fundamentally altered his squeaky clean, cartoonishly approachable visual style. A poignant, powerhouse work of historical fiction from one of our finest graphic storytellers. Grades 7-11. --Ian Chipman

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lessons learned from gods (4.5 stars) October 24, 2013
By Alt
"What is China but a people and their stories?" That question, posed late in Boxers, is fundamental to graphic novels that retell legends of the country's past. This one is written in the style of a legend but recounts (in a fanciful way) an event -- the Boxer Rebellion -- that is really too recent to be legendary.

Boxers takes place in late nineteenth century China. Priests and foreign armies are disrupting village life with their arrogant, sacrilegious ways. Little Bao, who views his father as an heroic figure from the operas he adores, is dismayed when his father, on his way to seek justice from the magistrate, is beaten by foreigners. One day a man named Red Lantern comes to the village. He teaches young men kung fu and heals the disabled. Red Lantern seeks recruits to help him defend villages from the foreign devils. Little Bao isn't allowed to join them, but he takes Red Lantern's place as the student of a kung fu master and learns how to channel the gods -- a handy talent in a fight, particularly if you channel the god of war (although the Repentant Pig Demon is pretty badass too). Soon Bao is leading the Big Sword Society, following in Red Lantern's heroic footsteps. After a name change for the sake of coolness (although what male wouldn't want to be a member of the Big Sword Society?), Bao leads the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fist.

The story makes reference to ancient Chinese legends that are (fortunately for the Chinese history-challenged reader like me) chronicled in other fine graphic novels. Boxers offers some history of its own, taught to Bao in dreams by the first Emperor of China. And like every good legend, it teaches a lesson. Are the foreign devils really devils or are they just foreign?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Educational Without Feeling Like a Lecture September 10, 2013
Back in grad school, I had my first experience with Gene Luen Yang's work when we read his most famous graphic novel thus far, American Born Chinese. Though disparate in subject matter, Boxers does have something in common with his prior work, the magical realism that Yang brings to bear even on historical or contemporary subjects. In Boxers, Gene Luen Yang manages to pack quite a punch with his spare prose and straight forward drawings.

Though I learned about the Boxer Rebellion in college, I'll admit that my memories thereof are limited at best. Based on extensive research (okay, I checked Wikipedia), Yang actually fits in the main historical points without being at all tedious or lecturing. Basically, Yang has perfected the ability to teach without seeming like he's teaching, which is ideal for the intended audience. He conveys the difficult times that led to the rebellion, the drought and the negative impact foreigners were having in China, through the lens of the life of one young boy who grows up to head the rebellion.

Little Bao did not start out as a remarkable boy. He lived in the shadow of his older brothers and had his head in the clouds, fancifully imagining himself the character in an opera. With Little Bao's optimism, to some degree never shed throughout his journey, Yang captures the wholehearted believe the Boxers had that they would be victorious. In no way did they imagine that their gods would let them lose or that foreigners could truly take over China.

Remember how I mentioned the fantasy angle? Well, in Boxers, the beliefs in local gods, the beliefs being challenged by the conversion to Christianity coming with the influx of foreigners, are manifested physically. Yang literally pits the old gods versus the imperialist forces.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War has no Winners November 23, 2013
I'm very interested in Chinese history and have read about the Boxer Rebellion before. When I saw this set of books were about to be published I wondered what the Catholic-Chinese author would have to say and how he would say it. As a Catholic myself this was my main interest as I knew the history already. It is a beautifully told story of a peasant boy's miserable life as he is lead through the ranks of this raggle-taggle army representing themselves and any other peasants wanting to join in. They believe their gods have magic and that the magic is transformed through them as they fight making them unbeatable. Truth, inevitably brings them down. However, there were people on both sides who were cruel and there is no "good side" to cheer for. Yang makes sure we understand that the Boxers wanted the slaughter of all foreign devils and secondary devils (this means white men and Christian converted Chinese). No one was safe, boy, woman, or child. Bao is a character we can sympathize with right away when we see events only from his perspective, not seeing through language and custom differences nor already established prejudices on both sides. The book is big but reads very fast as there are many wordless action scenes and text does become sparse through many other scenes. The words and the pictures together tell this raw, heartbreaking tale of needless death at a time when China's government was very weak and flip-flopping to side with whomever seemed the safest bet at any appropriate time. You will care for these characters, though you may not care for what they ultimately choose to do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This is a great graphic novel. The story is historical, but told in such a contemporary way. Wonderfully written.
Published 19 days ago by Edie Pagliasotti
5.0 out of 5 stars A dramatic dichotomy of the Boxer Rebellion
It is rare to find a story set in historical account in the fashion that Luen Yang presents. He drives to the heart of the Boxer Rebellion, the people. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Noah Arsenault
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, I enjoyed the contrast between the two books
Excellent, I enjoyed the contrast between the two books, how he made her a martyr and how she in the end saved his life.
Published 5 months ago by Vivian Diane Eastman
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I had wanted to read this as soon as I saw the publication release. The Boxer Rebellion is a sad footnote of Chinese history and I had never seen it addressed in such a unique... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Talvi
4.0 out of 5 stars great book!
We loved this books. Saints is a great companion for to the boxers!
Published 6 months ago by suyao_zhou
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for young people
"Boxers" is a multi-layered book. Mainly a graphic novel, the writing is also outstanding. The content is almost as dense as Genesis, the first chapter in the Bible. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jo McIntyre
3.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming follow-up to "Boxers"
After reading "Boxers", my expectations for "Saints" were pretty much set. I expected a fairly strong main character, underdeveloped secondary characters, and a... Read more
Published 10 months ago by S. Mercier
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice light introduction to the Boxer Rebellion
I don't read many graphic novels, but there was so much hype about this series that when I saw it on the shelf at my local library I thought I'd give it a go. I am glad I did. Read more
Published 10 months ago by S. Mercier
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mighty Gods of the Boxer Rebellion
From the author of the award-nominated graphic novel American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang, comes an epic and original undertaking on the catastrophic event known as the Boxer... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Alex C. Telander
4.0 out of 5 stars The Saint of the Boxer Rebellion
The companion volume to Boxers, the duology is the first graphic novel to make an appearance on the National Book award Longlist. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Alex C. Telander
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More About the Author

Gene Luen Yang began making comic books in the fifth grade. He has since written and drawn a number of titles. His 2006 book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album - New. His 2013 two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints was nominated for both the National Book Award and the LA Times Book Award. Gene currently writes the graphic novel continuation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Shadow Hero, his recent comic book series with Sonny Liew, revives the Green Turtle, an obscure 1940s character who is arguably the first Asian American superhero. The Shadow Hero is now available as individual digital issues via Amazon Kindle. The print trade paperback collection will be released on July 15, 2014.

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