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Boxers (Boxers & Saints) Paperback – September 10, 2013
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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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›
In Boxers & Saints, what Yang really digs into are people's motivations. How does an unassuming Chinese boy grow up to kill his countrymen as a Boxer? Why would a young girl convert to Christianity, rather than sticking to the gods of her country? Yang doesn't set out to teach the reader exactly what happened; there aren't any specific dates or anything like that. Instead, he shows the feelings and the ways of thinking that led to the bloody battles and the hatred. Boxers & Saints are nuanced, subtle and thought-provoking.
The main character of Saints made a brief appearance in Boxers, as the girl young Little Bao wanted to marry when he grew up because her face resembled an opera mask. Four-girl, so called because she was the fourth child to the family and believed to be a devil and to represent death, has no true name and is not beloved of her family. She tries to get them to accept her, but all they see is how she falls short. As a child might, she begins to act out for attention, by making a devil face. Her mother, sick of the comments from others about Four-girl's devil face, takes her to a Doctor, who happens to be a Christian, and he convinces her to stop with the devil face.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My son is 11 and he read both books. He loved them both. Thank you for keeping his interest with these cultural books.Published 7 days ago by Jenny
When I read the first part of the Boxer and Saints, I didn't even think it's worth buying this book. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
I download the kindle fire app on my laptop but when I pulled up the book on there it wouldn't download.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
High School students (especially reluctant readers) enjoyed this graphic novel. They quickly recognized the historical implications and connections.Published 4 months ago by N Barber
I am going to be reviewing this book in light of its companion work so that the review would capture the book in the whole context of the story. Read morePublished 11 months ago by SLIMJIM
One of the best works of graphic novel fiction, the companion graphic novels, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Get it!Published 11 months ago by Brian A. Corcoran
This is a great graphic novel. The story is historical, but told in such a contemporary way. Wonderfully written.Published 13 months ago by Edie Pagliasotti
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 morePublished 15 months ago by Noah Arsenault
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 18 months ago by Vivian Diane Eastman