Monday, April 14, 2014

Boxers & Saints

Author: Gene Luen Yang
Info: First Second, copyright 2013, 325 pages, 170 pages
YALSA Great Graphic Novel

Hub Challenge Read - #hubchallenge

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): The Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of a young warrior and saint.

Boxer: 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 and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. 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 in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, 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.

~Goodreads Description~

I've been a fan of Gene Luen Yang for quite some time.  I was first introduced to his style of storytelling in American Born Chinese.  He introduces the reader to Chinese culture in an accessible way, telling history through beautiful artwork and folklore.

In Boxer, we see the rise of western religion in rural China with the introduction of missionaries into the countryside and the inevitable backlash from local resistance.  Then we also get to see the flip side, in Saints.  A young girl, a convert, is looking for a way to belong in late 19th century China, and she finds it with the ghost of a saint and the acceptance of a foreign faith.

I'm usually not a fan of historical fiction, but Gene Luen Yang manages to make it thrilling and engaging.  I know very little of Chinese history, but I might just have to read a little more on the Boxer Rebellion.

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