Skip to main content

Boxers and Saints

The Boxer Rebellion is arguably the most profound example of the disaster than can arise from cultural cross-purpose and Imperialism. Atrocities were committed by every nation involved and innocent lives were lost from every nationality in China at the time. Though none were affected more than the Chinese themselves, both Boxers and Christians. In his new duology of graphic novels, Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang explores the ideas, beliefs, and actions of both these groups, giving the reader an up close and personal experience with the some of the most important events of the conflict.

Synopsis:
Boxers & Saints is a groundbreaking graphic novel in two volumes. This innovative format presents two parallel tales about young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. Saints tells Vibiana's story, and the companion volume, Boxers, tells the story of Little Bao, a young man who joins the Boxer Rebellion.
Boxers: 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.
Saints: China, 1898. An unwanted fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family. She finds friendship—and a name, Vibiana—in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie . . . and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

Yang has told a difficult story and he never once shied away from its complexity or its horrors. This is a bloody gruesome tale and the pictures depict that, but that is not what leaves an impression. No, it is the characters Yang is telling his story through who do that. Their doubts, fears, actions, and inaction all come together to make the reader experience what is happening. I appreciated the balance he gave the story too. He made all the characters real and true people with strengths and faults. The Chinese Boxers had a firm and true belief that what they were doing was for the good of China. Watching Bao squelch some of his misgivings about some actions as he convinced himself all of it was for a greater good, shows the struggle the people had. They wanted their country back, they were not happy with foreign influence, and they felt they were answering to a higher calling. On the flip side, Yang gave the Chinese Christians and the foreign missionaries the same treatment. Though Vibiana's story is shorter than Bao's it still depicts a clear picture of what was happening with this group. In each story you see people using the beliefs of their brethren to further their own selfish ends. In each story you see people motivated to make a change and a difference for the better. I appreciated how Yang presented the foreign missionaries as true people as well, with faults yes, but he didn't make them the problem. The soldiers in the expeditionary forces aren't treated as kindly, but historical evidence tells us they shouldn't be. (Some of the missionaries shouldn't be either, but I do appreciate how they weren't all painted with the same brush.) 

I can't imagine attempting to teach a unit on The Boxer Rebellion and not using these. It would be negligent. Yang included all the main points that needed to be there, the problem with the opium trade, the influence of the weather and failed crops, the bandits who used the church as a means of bullying, life in the Legation Quarter as compared to life around it, the burning of the library at Hanlin Academy, and the looting of the expeditionary forces, and also brings the story to life giving the events and places faces to go with them and feel for. Truly excellent in every way, these are well deserving of their National Book Award nomination. 

Comments

Betsy said…
YES! (And, frankly, they were fully deserving of the National Book AWARD as well :-) )

Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

From Most Recent to Least:








What books have recently caught your eye?


Future Favorite Friday: June 2018

I take the 2nd Friday of every month to highlight some upcoming releases I am looking forward to that I hope are Future Favorites. Feel free to do your own post, just please link back to my blog and tell me about your post in the comments.

Two Naomis was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was understandably excited it's getting a sequel. 

In this sequel to Two Naomis, now that Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi E.’s dad are married, the girls have learned to do a lot of things together, like All-Family Sunday dinners, sixth-grade homework, navigating the subway system by themselves, and visiting their favorite bakeries. Until sixth grade in a new school presents a whole new set of surprises and challenges.

Trusting her gut has worked for Naomi E. all her life, and she figures that it will be an asset to her role as a Peer Mediator—until she realizes how much of the job requires the Art of Compromise, which she’s only just starting to get used to at home.

Naomi Marie is excited about maki…

Lovely War

When I first heard about Lovely War by Julie Berry, I remember thinking, "Whoa, that's ambitious." And it is. The scope and depth of this story with all of its intricacies and thematic elements is massive. Berry manages to hold it all together beautifully. She managed it so beautifully that it is so far my favorite YA read of 2019.

The ecstasies and the wounds of love were Aphrodite's work. Forging passions was what she was born to do. She, too, was a welder, a mistress of fire of a different sort, working in materials more powerful and resistant than carbon and iron. And what did that toil do to her?

In 1942 New York City while men are partying on the eve of shipping off to war, a stunning couple arrives at a hotel in the midst of the revelry and departs for their room followed by an overly enthusiastic bellboy. But none of these figures are as they appear. The couple is Aphrodite and Ares on a secret assignation that turns out to be not so secret as the bellboy is Ap…

TTT: Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This Week's Topic: Auto-Buy Authors

Here are my auto-buy authors and their most recent or coming soon release. Also, I got stuck on twelve and couldn't cut it down any further. So it's really Top Twelve Tuesday today. Or Thirteen rather as I sort of combined Emma and Genevieve. (I auto-buy all their individual projects too.)








Who are some authors whose books you buy no matter what?

(I don't know what it says about me that there is only one male author on this list, but I don't dislike whatever it is.)


2019 Favorites So Far...

Who can believe we are halfway through 2019 already??? It's certainly hard for me. (Also, where did my summer go?) Anyways...here are my favorite reads of the year this year so far. I'm featuring my 10 Favorites overall and then 5 from each age category I read. It will be interesting to see which of these will make it all the way to the December 31 list!

Top 10 So Far:






 Top 5 MG:





Top 5 YA:




Top 5 Adult: