Graphic Novel Review: Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

Title: Boxers (Boxers & Saints #1)
Author & Art:  Gene Luen Yang
Published: 2013
Genre: Graphic Novel

Synopsis: 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.

My Rating: red-starred-starred-star 1/2

This I enjoyed, mostly because of the historical information placed in such an easy to comprehend manner. Now, I have a bit of a fascination with China since I was a little girl. I’ve longed to visit and to even live there so this was a great read for me.

The Boxers tells the story of The Boxer Rebellion of 1899 – which was a violent uprising against foreigners in China and the Christianity that was being brought to the country by the ‘foreign devils’. I knew some of what the Rebellion entailed because I had read about it and listened to a podcast but you do not have to have any historical background to understand and appreciate this. We start out by learning the story of Little Bao since he was young and how he came to lead the Boxers. Now, this book is decidedly one-sided. The author and the story are told from the POV of the Boxers and they were righteous in their pursuit no matter what innocents were killed. This I did not have a problem with because I am highly critical of imperialistic views, colonizing and missionaries so I was readily sympathetic despite the questionable means.

Overall, I’m glad I read it. I enjoy the tragic seam that follows a lot of Chinese heroic tales and I will be picking up ‘Saints’ next to finish the graphic duology.


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