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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 nothi 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.


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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 nothi 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.

30 review for Boxers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    After having read and loved beyond words Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese, I was more than excited about picking up his other works. But upon sitting down to write this review, I found that I hadn't that many positive things to discuss like I did with the author's previous work. Set in China, 1898, Boxers follows bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers as they roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient C After having read and loved beyond words Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese, I was more than excited about picking up his other works. But upon sitting down to write this review, I found that I hadn't that many positive things to discuss like I did with the author's previous work. Set in China, 1898, Boxers follows bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers as they 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 had a great setting with complex characters that made me compulsively turn page after page to find out what would happen next. However, I was more than once disappointed with their personal growth aka there wasn't any because they were almost all killed off. So after some time it came down to the fact that I wasn't even that affected by another death in this graphic novel. But I did love Bao's dreams, even if they weren't really well explained as to why they were suddenly happening... I ended up flowing with it because Gene Luen Yang storytelling skills are phenomenal. Boxers was an unexpected read in that I thought it was for sure going to blow my socks off, but ended up leaving me quite underwhelmed in a few aspects. However, I will continue with Saints-- the parallel story to this volume-- and hope I'll feel more attached by then. 3.5/5 stars Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Boxers, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission! Support creators you love. Buy a Coffee for nat (bookspoils) with http://Ko-fi.com/bookspoils

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jan Philipzig

    Centered around the experiences of a Chinese peasant boy whose village has been plundered and abused by Westerners, Boxers combines historical fiction with magical realism to tell the violent story of China's struggle against colonialism around the year 1900. It is Gene Luen Yang's first graphic novel to be set in China, though it deals with themes that have always dominated Yang's writing: the relationship between Chinese and Western culture, religion, the supernatural, youth, identity formatio Centered around the experiences of a Chinese peasant boy whose village has been plundered and abused by Westerners, Boxers combines historical fiction with magical realism to tell the violent story of China's struggle against colonialism around the year 1900. It is Gene Luen Yang's first graphic novel to be set in China, though it deals with themes that have always dominated Yang's writing: the relationship between Chinese and Western culture, religion, the supernatural, youth, identity formation, family, moral obligation. Boxers may not be as brilliantly conceived and complex as Yang's earlier American Born Chinese or his more recent The Shadow Hero, but it does provide colorful, engaging and mildly informative entertainment that should appeal to young teens in particular.

  3. 5 out of 5

    First Second Books

    I've got to be honest: my favorite panel of this entire book is one of the ones from the beginning -- where Little Bao imagines marrying Vibiana (the opera-masked girl) and having lots of opera-masked sons. I think it is adorable! And also hilarious. I've got to be honest: my favorite panel of this entire book is one of the ones from the beginning -- where Little Bao imagines marrying Vibiana (the opera-masked girl) and having lots of opera-masked sons. I think it is adorable! And also hilarious.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    Historical-fiction and comics? Sing me the hell up! Myth and legend alongside Christian and polytheistic religion? Sign me the hell hell up! Well, I was signed up, and ended up with tears down my face and a closed fist hitting my pillow out of anger. Boxers and Saints are two volumes based at the time of the Boxer Rebellion, an anti-imperialistic uprising from 1899 and lasting until 1901. It is told through the eyes of Little Bao, a teen with a desire for a free China from the imperialistic main Historical-fiction and comics? Sing me the hell up! Myth and legend alongside Christian and polytheistic religion? Sign me the hell hell up! Well, I was signed up, and ended up with tears down my face and a closed fist hitting my pillow out of anger. Boxers and Saints are two volumes based at the time of the Boxer Rebellion, an anti-imperialistic uprising from 1899 and lasting until 1901. It is told through the eyes of Little Bao, a teen with a desire for a free China from the imperialistic main powers, after he sees injustice done in the name of the new faith, and the favoritism shown to them over the other citizens. It is also told through the eyes of Vibiana, a convert to Christianity, and what she endured via her old life. Basically, it shows both sides of those that suffered the most during this uprising, as it hurt them more than the powers they were fighting against or defending. The best done thing of the comics was the mix between folk and religion, and the effects it had upon the main characters. Little Bao often sees these gods, whose his ancestors followed, who guide him through his feats. Vibiana sees Joan of Arc, and sees herself in her, a young girl fighting against all odds to defend her people, and whose end resembles Joan's end as well. The main point, as interpreted by moi, was colonialism. These comics are basically about colonialism and its effects on both parts. The Boxers have been considered many things, xenophobic, anti-imperialists, revolutionaries; and all deal with colonization as the glue that binds them. The "Westerners" were seen as the devil by the Boxers, who wanted them out, while to other members of same society, who had already been introduced in a more positive light to the "invaders" saw them as their aid. The Boxers might claim the population was too colonized to realize the "other evil," while the "Saints" in the story could call the Boxers discriminatory people that could not accept differing views. Colonialism is a subject in which I am no expert, I do come from a country that was a colony, I come from nations that were consider colonizers, that is as far as my knowledge goes, but these comics did provide a refreshing read on being a colony without actually being a colony. The terrorism undertone is strong in this one! Yang said in an interview: "The Boxers have a lot in common with many of today's extremist movements in the Middle East. Little Bao would probably be labeled a terrorist if he were real and alive today." And I agree, per today standards, they were terrorist, even though what they were trying to achieve was a more reasonable cause than Boko Haram or Al-Quaeda or ISIL, but the way in which it was handled, through murder and pillage, makes them terrorist, as they instill on people: TERROR. In conclusion: Whatever else this man comes up with, I will eat up as if I have been on the lemonade diet and chocolate is being poured around me from the sky.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steph Sinclair

    I don’t know what I was expecting when I first started reading Boxers, but it certainly wasn’t a war. That may give you pause, but I went into this one blind. I didn’t read the synopsis and had only seen a few of the illustrations at the BEA last year before deciding I wanted to read it. Overall, it was eye-opening and violent. I enjoyed the way Yang told a historical story with fantasy elements and was impressed with the amount of detail. I also liked how religion itself was handled. It plays a I don’t know what I was expecting when I first started reading Boxers, but it certainly wasn’t a war. That may give you pause, but I went into this one blind. I didn’t read the synopsis and had only seen a few of the illustrations at the BEA last year before deciding I wanted to read it. Overall, it was eye-opening and violent. I enjoyed the way Yang told a historical story with fantasy elements and was impressed with the amount of detail. I also liked how religion itself was handled. It plays a huge role in the story and I never felt it got too preachy either way. It’s very violent in nature, just as the Boxer Rebellion was, so I’d recommend this one for mature YA readers and up.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wyatt Packard

    How Gene Luen Yang approached this subject is amazing and I give him so much credit as an author and creator. I have read so very few historical graphic novels and it was so refreshing to see Yang paint a historical event, The Boxer Rebellion, in a more character and motivational driven light. To be fair, I knew very little about the Boxer Rebellion prior to my reading Boxers & Saints, but after a bit of research motivated by the author's books I found that Yang's books are both entirely accurat How Gene Luen Yang approached this subject is amazing and I give him so much credit as an author and creator. I have read so very few historical graphic novels and it was so refreshing to see Yang paint a historical event, The Boxer Rebellion, in a more character and motivational driven light. To be fair, I knew very little about the Boxer Rebellion prior to my reading Boxers & Saints, but after a bit of research motivated by the author's books I found that Yang's books are both entirely accurate while also managing to be educational in a very accessible way. Yang tells the stories of both the Boxers and the Saints in two connecting volumes. In Boxers the main character, Little Bao begins as an unremarkable boy, falling under his older brothers' shadows. Bao represents the Boxer's optimism and belief that they will repel the "foreign devils", who are the christian preachers and their Chinese converts. Bao and the others literally see themselves physically transforming into the local gods when going into battle with the imperialist forces. This added a great amount of color and visual effects to the pages but was where I felt the story was weakest. The fantastical element was actually very distracting to me as I was much more focused on the historical aspects of the tale. Yang presents a very dueled story with Boxers & Saints and I admire the way he presented the hopes and atrocities of both sides. He makes it very clear that there is distinct motivation for both sides and that really neither are wrong in their beliefs and he showcases how horrible a war like the Boxer Rebellion really was, not shying away from any details in his illustrations or dialogue. So, I did admire and greatly enjoy Yang's writing and storytelling abilities, but thought that some things were distracting and the oddness at times made the book very hard to get into. The story is told in a very visual way making this a great read for reluctant readers. I would recommend these two books as an excellent look at the morals of two warring groups of people and I believe the lessons presented can be applied to many conflicts and that these lessons present a valuble perspective on conflict and war.

  7. 5 out of 5

    J.I.

    Ignore the sociopaths that flock to the cause, and the brutal men that feel it is their calling to do violence no matter the time or cause and ask yourself: Why do men commit such atrocities as they do, time and again? This book answers, surprisingly well, that question. The story of Little Bao follows him from a child determined to do right in the world, a commitment to justice and peace, and we see how this path logically, and horrifically, leads him to locking a group of women and children in Ignore the sociopaths that flock to the cause, and the brutal men that feel it is their calling to do violence no matter the time or cause and ask yourself: Why do men commit such atrocities as they do, time and again? This book answers, surprisingly well, that question. The story of Little Bao follows him from a child determined to do right in the world, a commitment to justice and peace, and we see how this path logically, and horrifically, leads him to locking a group of women and children in a church and burning the to death, as well as razing the writings of his own culture he had sought to preserve--all for a rebellion that was pitifully squashed not long after. We see in this book that everything is logical at each connection, and it is only if we stand back and look at the arc as a whole that we see how wildly it has diverted from our main path. Is this a horror, as the gentle reader might see, guided by a philosophy of peace, or is it the only way, as Qin Shi Huang would assert? That is a question it doesn't answer, but rather one it poses and lets you wonder about as many good and innocent die for the sins of a minority and the beliefs of clashing cultures. Is this the best book? No. Sometimes the simplistic art could have been rendered more detailed (though I must say that the use of color and costuming in astounding and the art is largely used perfectly), and the story could have been given just a little bit more nuance, but it is strong and interesting and worthwhile. An important note: if you buy this, but its companion, Saints, as reading one will only make you want the second. You're going to get it, so just get it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Fauchelle

    I liked the saints one better because it was from the Christian point of view. Don't want to read them again but it was quick and easy to read this grafic novel. I liked the saints one better because it was from the Christian point of view. Don't want to read them again but it was quick and easy to read this grafic novel.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    So this is the first of a two volume set about the Boxer Rebellion for children/tweens/YA, probably YA, by the Printz-award-winning author of American Born Chinese, which is now justly a staple in schools. He also did (is doing?) the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, so he's known for that, too, but this is his next Big Book, though it's also a two book deal, where you get to see the historical war through the eyes of a young boy, in Boxers, and a young girl, in Saints, two kids who see each ot So this is the first of a two volume set about the Boxer Rebellion for children/tweens/YA, probably YA, by the Printz-award-winning author of American Born Chinese, which is now justly a staple in schools. He also did (is doing?) the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, so he's known for that, too, but this is his next Big Book, though it's also a two book deal, where you get to see the historical war through the eyes of a young boy, in Boxers, and a young girl, in Saints, two kids who see each other briefly early on in Boxers and whose lives are finally fated to entwine later on. These endings are slight, and by the choices Yang makes won't make the series as popular as they could be, but I admire him for making a hard choice, finally. I started with Saints and liked it, and found it a little slight but I liked the girl very much; Boxers is longer, more substantial, and so more impressive, in my opinion, though I liked the quirky girl better than the boy. In this series you get to see two basic sides of the conflict, which from the Chinese American Yang is admirable. The German Christian invasion of China is thwarted by the rebellion, though Christianity did make inroads into China, of course. Yang gets to know the story in part from a Chinese Christian community in the Bay area where he lives. The Western Invaders are "devils" undermining Chinese culture and traditions, laying down train tracks, its technology seen as doing some good things for commerce but wantonly damaging Chinese traditions. The "secondary devils" are the Chinese who become converted by the Western church leaders to Christianity, and we see reasonably how the girl, unhappy in her life, becomes a Christian, and likens herself to Saint Joan of Arc, fighting the fight for God. Interesting, for Yang to get to know the vestiges of that missionary move to convert the 'pagan" Chinese, now a church living in Yang's community… (like the one in mine that I have been in). How is it people reconcile their Christianity with their Chines culture? The girl helps us see that side of the story, and the boy, who develops mad Kung Fu skills that help him and a growing band of rural poor fighters to rise up against the Western invaders, and in fact call up forces derived (as Yang sees it) from the rich Chinese operatic/mythological tradition. The Kung Fu skills turn out to be superpowers of a Chinese variety, finally. So, isn't that interesting? In the west many (white, middle class, mostly) know opera as a European entity, but Yang helps us see another "side" of opera, just as he does for religion and mythology. He sides with the Chinese rebellion, in resisting Western forces, yet he helps us see from a child's perspective how one could see things from both sides… Yang will get awards for this series, definitely. I liked them very much, especially as a pair. Kids' stuff, but a pretty rich look at history and culture, in these graphic novels.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    After reading gobs of praise for this, I broke down and ordered a copy for kindle rather than wait until my next visit to the US to pick up a paper copy, and I am delighted that I was not disappointed. While it is not perfect in every detail (subtlety is sometimes lacking), this graphic novel is saturated with something I can only call resonance. One feels there is something behind this book, compelling it into existence. This quality is most apparent in the way Yang depicts the mystical experie After reading gobs of praise for this, I broke down and ordered a copy for kindle rather than wait until my next visit to the US to pick up a paper copy, and I am delighted that I was not disappointed. While it is not perfect in every detail (subtlety is sometimes lacking), this graphic novel is saturated with something I can only call resonance. One feels there is something behind this book, compelling it into existence. This quality is most apparent in the way Yang depicts the mystical experiences that fueled the Boxer uprising. While initially a tad disappointed by Yang's simplistic art, once the old gods, in the garb of Peking opera players, soared down to take possession of their followers, I was in comic heaven. Having lived in China and Taiwan for years, I can say that Yang has captured the powerful, righteous, implacable, and unknowable qualities that emanate from the ancient depictions of gods and heroes in this culture. This is praiseworthy in itself, yet there is so much more to appreciate in this multilayered tale. This is a graphic novel that tackles big issues. It doesn't shy away from the violence and horror that can accompany religious fervor, but it also never allows us to doubt the reality and necessity of belief. When the gods depart, and protagonist Little Bao is left gaping in awe at the carnage left in the wake of his failed uprising, we have to wonder along with him, which of his betrayals was worse, that of his faith, or that of his humanity?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    I knew next to nothing about the Boxer Rebellion before I read this. It makes more sense now. I can see why it would feel like your country has been invaded. It was and they were treated very well. Interesting that farmers were trained as fighters. I love the Chinese Opera that Little Bao loves. We have that in common. I love that they become mythic figures from the past when they fight. It is lovely. I think the art is great and the culture is represented well from what I can tell. I am a fan o I knew next to nothing about the Boxer Rebellion before I read this. It makes more sense now. I can see why it would feel like your country has been invaded. It was and they were treated very well. Interesting that farmers were trained as fighters. I love the Chinese Opera that Little Bao loves. We have that in common. I love that they become mythic figures from the past when they fight. It is lovely. I think the art is great and the culture is represented well from what I can tell. I am a fan of Gene's work. This is very well done and I will be reading Saints. I want to see the other side as well. There was a lot of blood shed. China has a complicated past. They like to blame the west for opium, but there was an emperor before the opium wars who spent 30 years basically in an opium haze. His eunuchs ruled for him basically. Another great book was Tai Pan about the founding of Hong Kong. China history is so long and so much good stuff there. Very dramatic. This book was fantastic for what it did. It entertained and presented one side of a conflict in Chinese history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alexander

    I read this because my daughter recommended it. She's a lifelong comics fanatic, and a fine creator to boot. I always trust her taste. Boxers is a graphic novel in that rare but important and burgeoning subgenre, the historical graphic novel. Its topic is the 1900 Chinese uprising against European and American colonialism, known in the west as the Boxer Rebellion. The narrative focuses on a young peasant man as he grows up in a village, gets radicalized, discovers local militias and secret societ I read this because my daughter recommended it. She's a lifelong comics fanatic, and a fine creator to boot. I always trust her taste. Boxers is a graphic novel in that rare but important and burgeoning subgenre, the historical graphic novel. Its topic is the 1900 Chinese uprising against European and American colonialism, known in the west as the Boxer Rebellion. The narrative focuses on a young peasant man as he grows up in a village, gets radicalized, discovers local militias and secret societies, then gradually becomes an insurgent leader. It's a gripping, fascinating, and moving tale. Let me highlight some especially interesting and effective elements. First, this is a bottom-up account. We never leave the protagonist's perspective. Since he's an illiterate peasant, we only see the world through his (developing) understanding. Besides several title cards telling us the date and location, Boxers never gives us a third person view. It's all subjective in this sense... and yet objective, in that we're immersed in a Chinese participant's experience. That's a perspective usually missing in western accounts. Bao is very sympathetic in this limited frame. He's also pedagogically useful, as his learning process lets readers gradually into the time period. Second, Boxers incorporates some degree of fantasy. The Boxers (also the Society of Harmonious Fists, some belonging to the awesomely named Big Sword Society) believed that they could summon spirits and/or gods and/or mythic heroes to aid their cause, and so Yang draws accordingly. Following the dictates of one classic fantasy style, it's usually unclear if these evocations actually transpire, or if they're only in Bao's mind. A notable instance of this is the character who sometimes possessed Bao, and then becomes his fierce advisor. (view spoiler)[It's China's first emperor. Bao, being uneducated in his nation's history, cannot recognize him. Shi Huang Di hectors Bao on tactics and strategy. (hide spoiler)] . Again, in fantasy mode, we can't tell if this is an actual possession, or a shadow play in Bao's mind. Third, Yang casts the story to cause the reader to sympathize with the Boxers, at least for the first half. Foreigners appear as arrogant, ignorant, and above all physically destructive. The Boxers stem from poor peasants, so you can see a clear moral framing. As the novel progresses Bao's crew becomes more violent in turn, committing increasingly dubious acts, while Chinese civilians converted to Christianity ("secondary devils") take on moral strength. As a visual story, Boxers is very nicely done. Panels are clean, simple, and direct, which helps a reader unfamiliar with the story to focus. Yang relies on some classic European and Japanese comic tropes for, I think, similar reasons. I was especially impressed by his willingness to make rural life sparse and bland. This evades romanticism, and then makes the (imagined?) spirits very shocking in their visual power. They are gorgeously colored and detailed, a massive contrast to the humans we've seen so far. (Reminds me of the way Tous les matins du monde (1991) depicted the European baroque) Recommended. And thank you, Gwynneth. PS: I am not familiar with the post-revolutionary Chinese historiography of the Boxer Rebellion, so I cannot comment on how Yang engages with it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Boxers is the first of a two-part graphic personal history of China's Boxer Rebellion. This story centers on Little Bao, the youngest brother who rises up to become the leader of a rebel group trying to take back China from "foreign devils" (Europeans and Christian missionaries). Little Bao loves opera and mythology, and also secretly begins learning kung fu with a special teacher/mentor. Bao is a natural leader, and after a series of experiences, he finds his place as leader of the homegrown mi Boxers is the first of a two-part graphic personal history of China's Boxer Rebellion. This story centers on Little Bao, the youngest brother who rises up to become the leader of a rebel group trying to take back China from "foreign devils" (Europeans and Christian missionaries). Little Bao loves opera and mythology, and also secretly begins learning kung fu with a special teacher/mentor. Bao is a natural leader, and after a series of experiences, he finds his place as leader of the homegrown militia group. Yang expertly handles Little Bao's experiences and transition from boy to man. Strong dialogue and amazing artwork. This one is highly recommended. Longer spoken review of this book and the companion Saints on Jenny's Reading Envy Podcast 097: Blank Spaces (guest: me!) -- Read for Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder Challenge "a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey"

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kayla (BOOKadoodles)

    A #GetGraphic read—Unapologetically brutal and a great portrayal of how ethical lines become blurred during wartime. Why did I let this sit on my shelf for years before finally reading it?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    At times funny, at other times heart-breaking, but always wonderful. I had never even heard of the Boxer Rebellion until it came up in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode when I was in my 20's. It's a part of history that we just don't talk about in America (I guess because it was a war we didn't fight), and don't know much about. This is an interesting look at one side of it, and there's a companion book, SAINTS, that covers the other side of this conflict between the newly baptized Christians a At times funny, at other times heart-breaking, but always wonderful. I had never even heard of the Boxer Rebellion until it came up in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode when I was in my 20's. It's a part of history that we just don't talk about in America (I guess because it was a war we didn't fight), and don't know much about. This is an interesting look at one side of it, and there's a companion book, SAINTS, that covers the other side of this conflict between the newly baptized Christians and the traditional Chinese in the early 1900's. When the book started out, I thought I'd pass it along to my 10yo when I was done, but I think not. It's definitely for more mature readers, not adults, but teens and up.

  16. 4 out of 5

    B

    I'm so impressed that this author was able to take a dreadful time in China's history and make it absorbing and accessible to everyone else with the two books that explain this time period from different viewpoints. Some of the humor was more 21st than 19th century but I imagine that this might appeal to a younger audience, hooking them into wanting to learn more about the Boxer Rebellion. And I really appreciated how he demonstrated that war based on cultural differences coming from misunderstan I'm so impressed that this author was able to take a dreadful time in China's history and make it absorbing and accessible to everyone else with the two books that explain this time period from different viewpoints. Some of the humor was more 21st than 19th century but I imagine that this might appeal to a younger audience, hooking them into wanting to learn more about the Boxer Rebellion. And I really appreciated how he demonstrated that war based on cultural differences coming from misunderstandings, ignorance, and deliberate propaganda will always have horrid consequences.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tilly

    This was definitely a very moving and interesting portrayal of war, especially for someone like me who knew little to nothing about the Boxers Rebellion before. I plan on reading "Saints" as soon as I can to see the other perspective. 5 of 5 stars. This was definitely a very moving and interesting portrayal of war, especially for someone like me who knew little to nothing about the Boxers Rebellion before. I plan on reading "Saints" as soon as I can to see the other perspective. 5 of 5 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ilana

    A bookish friend over at LibraryThing gave this book duo, Boxers & Saints, high praise after it came out and isn’t it amazing how quickly time flashes forward, because I’d been wanting to read them both ever since and it’s been five years already. I’m glad I finally decided to make Boxers a priority because I really taken by it. I think it has something to do with feeling sympathy for the main protagonist, Bao, who as the youngest of three Chinese brothers in the late 19th century, has a passion A bookish friend over at LibraryThing gave this book duo, Boxers & Saints, high praise after it came out and isn’t it amazing how quickly time flashes forward, because I’d been wanting to read them both ever since and it’s been five years already. I’m glad I finally decided to make Boxers a priority because I really taken by it. I think it has something to do with feeling sympathy for the main protagonist, Bao, who as the youngest of three Chinese brothers in the late 19th century, has a passion for traditional Chinese opera and the rituals and symbols that have been passed down through the generations. He is full of imagination and soon learns everything about the art of Kung Fu from a master who gives him special tutoring out of sympathy, and eventually becomes the leader of a resistance movement called “The Society of the Harmonious Fists”. Composed of men who were daily rigorously trained in kung fu and combat skills and who continually recruited more adherents in the villages. They eventually led the peasant revolt which became known as the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. This rebellion grew from the Chinese people’s discontent when European business and religious men sought to make profitable trade in China and impose Christianity while destroying local traditions. The Chinese people rightfully saw as an invasion. Helps a lot that I’ve read about the Boxer Rebellion before and have sympathy for the Chinese side of the issue, and no less that I enjoyed the simple illustration style Yang used and vivid colour schemes which stood out whenever Chinese opera gods were called for. Looking forward to the second book which I understand tells the story from the perspective of a Chinese girl of the same age who has converted to Christianity. After which I still have American Born Chinese to look forward to. ☺️

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    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 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. Through a mystical process, Little Bao and his friends are able to transform themselves into gods of China, and fight with a strength much bigger than their own bodies and kung fu training give them. It's a bit strange, but I think Yang makes it work, and this technique adds a lot of color and vibrancy to the otherwise fairly spare Boxers, highlighting the colorful culture that is being suppressed. However, Boxers does not preach. Yang, unsurprisingly given the dual nature of this release - Boxers being paired with Saints from the other side of the conflict, presents a balanced view. He makes it quite clear that horrible acts are perpetrated by both sides. If anything, Yang shows how horrible war is. Little Bao, once so innocent and fanciful, does brutal things, as so all of the Boxers. Bao must choose between love and war, and each time he chooses war and China. Boxers is surprisingly dark, intense and bloody, but done in a style that I do not think will overwhelm most readers. Gene Luen Yang's Boxers confronts subject matter not covered enough in western culture with an even, honest hand. He adds in fantasy to the history, making for a more metaphorical and more visually exciting read. The focus on visual over narrative storytelling will make this a great read for both more reluctant readers and those at a higher reading level.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    3.5/5 stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott Foley

    After teaching American Born Chinese for several years, I finally decided my (then) nine-year-old could handle it last fall. She loved it, so when Gene Luen Yang came to our local library, we had to pay him a visit. Unbelievably, we got there before anyone else and snagged a front row seat. Mr. Yang was already there and held a wonderful conversation with my daughter. He is truly an incredibly nice man and obviously a father of young children. Because he made such a great impression on her, my da After teaching American Born Chinese for several years, I finally decided my (then) nine-year-old could handle it last fall. She loved it, so when Gene Luen Yang came to our local library, we had to pay him a visit. Unbelievably, we got there before anyone else and snagged a front row seat. Mr. Yang was already there and held a wonderful conversation with my daughter. He is truly an incredibly nice man and obviously a father of young children. Because he made such a great impression on her, my daughter wanted to read everything by Gene Luen Yang. She enjoyed Secret Coders, so I next grabbed her both Boxers and Saints as well. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about either book. She read them and made a few comments about them being a little bloody, then asked me to read them, too. How could I say no? I’m a fan of the author as well. My daughter was right–these are bloody, violent books! However, they are also very, very good. Boxers takes place between 1894 and 1900. Historically speaking, it deals with the Chinese uprising against Western invaders as well as Christian missionaries. This all actually happened. Yang focuses on Bao, a young man whose family, friends, and village has suffered at the hands of foreign influences and even Christians. They are marginalized, bullied, and even killed for not conforming to outside forces. Bao loves Chinese opera, specifically the many gods and goddesses featured therein. As you know from American Born Chinese, Yang is particularly talented at infusing Chinese mythology into his stories. Of course, in the case of Bao, these are not myths. These gods and goddesses are reality, and he is soon able to harness their power. He teaches others to harness their power as well, and this is the foundation of their strength against the bigger, better armed invaders that they confront. The book culminates in the city of Peking. There Bao must make his most difficult of decisions and face his ultimate challenge. Boxers is a violent, complex book. While I don’t regret letting my (then) nine-year-old read it, I should have done a little research and provided a bit more guidance as she devoured it. It presents the very ugly, brutal side of colonialism and even Christian evangelism. However, it also brilliantly depicts Bao compromising his “gut” feelings of right and wrong versus what he thinks is best for his nation. Bao kills innocent Christian women and children in this book, but from his perspective, they are not innocent. They are foreign devils trying to destroy his culture and people. Yang himself is a Christian, so please don’t get on his case about this. He’s depicting a character rooted in historical events and using him to explore obvious complexities that actually occurred. The Chinese who did not conform were beaten and killed mercilessly. The Boxers did the same to their adversaries. Rest assured, Yang does not deal with any of this lightly. He clearly put a lot of thought into how he wanted to execute this story. I found it thoughtful, tasteful, and fair in relation to historical precedent. I will admit, though, because of Yang’s drawing style, the violence jarred me. This would have been a very different book by any other artist. While there is blood, head shots, beatings, and even mass murder, Yang doesn’t make any of it gratuitous. At the same time, though, he also doesn’t shy away from what’s happening. At one point, Bao decides to burn a church with Christians inside of it. Yang doesn’t soften this horrific event, but he also doesn’t sensationalize it. As you can tell, Boxers deeply resonated with me. I completely recommend it. I do think it’s okay for children, but I would urge you to guide them through it (unlike what I did). There is much to be learned from the book, to be sure. I’ll review Boxers‘ accompanying title, Saints, soon!

  22. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    I read American Born Chinese a while back and felt like I was the only person in the world who absolutely disliked it, so I didn't have any plans of picking up more of Yang's work (aside from the Avatar comics he's worked on, which I think I enjoy more because they aren't his original content). That said, when Boxers was assigned reading for my Children's Lit class this semester, I picked it up, hoping maybe I would have better luck. Sadly, nope, I think Yang's stories just aren't for me. I don' I read American Born Chinese a while back and felt like I was the only person in the world who absolutely disliked it, so I didn't have any plans of picking up more of Yang's work (aside from the Avatar comics he's worked on, which I think I enjoy more because they aren't his original content). That said, when Boxers was assigned reading for my Children's Lit class this semester, I picked it up, hoping maybe I would have better luck. Sadly, nope, I think Yang's stories just aren't for me. I don't find his storytelling style entertaining, I don't care much for the artwork, and something about the over-arching tone of depicting the Boxers as "secret villains" from the start... I don't know. Yang is an own-voices author for the Chinese representation, but he's also a Christian, and that inherently gives his version of the story some bias that I don't feel qualified to comment on as a pagan white person. I'll just leave it at saying certain elements didn't sit well with me. I really wish I could find some own-voice reviews from non-Christian Chinese readers, so if anyone has any to offer, please feel free to drop links in the comments!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cherrie

    Gene Yang does an amazing job putting faces and heart-wrenching stories behind the people who led and fought on the Boxer side of the Boxer Rebellion in China. Even though this is a comic book, I had to put it down a couple of times to take a bit of a breather because the depth and intensity overwhelmed me and I couldn't even imagine how my ancestors' ancestors lived through the war and tension. I can't help but wonder if what happened in history affects the "keep the peace" disposition many ove Gene Yang does an amazing job putting faces and heart-wrenching stories behind the people who led and fought on the Boxer side of the Boxer Rebellion in China. Even though this is a comic book, I had to put it down a couple of times to take a bit of a breather because the depth and intensity overwhelmed me and I couldn't even imagine how my ancestors' ancestors lived through the war and tension. I can't help but wonder if what happened in history affects the "keep the peace" disposition many overseas Chinese immigrants (first gen) have when they're living in a foreign country. Worth exploring, would be curious to talk to older first gen immigrant families. Not excited to read the other side's recollection of events.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    Maybe I'm misinterpreting the intent of this book. Considering how much attention and promotion it's received (much of which I've read), that seems odd. I've read most (maybe all) of Yang's published work, and seen him speak. I dig him, as a creator of stories. But I get the impression that a duo-work like this (and Saints) was created to portray both sides of the story. The story of the Boxer rebellion. And it kinda does. But why does Boxers get to be almost double the length of Saints? I left the Maybe I'm misinterpreting the intent of this book. Considering how much attention and promotion it's received (much of which I've read), that seems odd. I've read most (maybe all) of Yang's published work, and seen him speak. I dig him, as a creator of stories. But I get the impression that a duo-work like this (and Saints) was created to portray both sides of the story. The story of the Boxer rebellion. And it kinda does. But why does Boxers get to be almost double the length of Saints? I left the experience of reading both volumes in quick succession feeling deflated. And not particularly enlightened. And just a little bit misled.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    I liked this better than American Born Chinese. This was more historical fiction and more serious. It still has a cartoony style that I still think fits Yang's writing. There are more reference to Chinese mythology in this and even some Three Kingdom reference too. Kind of makes me wish Yang or someone else would write a comic book based on the Three Kingdom saga. I also learned some stuff about the Boxer Rebellion in this other than I just knew what it was about. I liked this better than American Born Chinese. This was more historical fiction and more serious. It still has a cartoony style that I still think fits Yang's writing. There are more reference to Chinese mythology in this and even some Three Kingdom reference too. Kind of makes me wish Yang or someone else would write a comic book based on the Three Kingdom saga. I also learned some stuff about the Boxer Rebellion in this other than I just knew what it was about.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    I loved this graphic novel! It has taught me so much about the Boxer Uprising and the Chinese culture of which I, unfortunately, don't know much about. I'm definitely going to do some more reading on these topics and that all thanks to this beautiful, beautiful book. I love these kinds of books which make me feel like I have gained something by reading them. I loved this graphic novel! It has taught me so much about the Boxer Uprising and the Chinese culture of which I, unfortunately, don't know much about. I'm definitely going to do some more reading on these topics and that all thanks to this beautiful, beautiful book. I love these kinds of books which make me feel like I have gained something by reading them.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shelby M. (Read and Find Out)

    3.5 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rick Silva

    Tragic and intense story of China's Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Little Bao witnesses the injustices of the foreigners who have been bullying the common folk of China, and he begins the practice of Kung Fu, as the conflicts escalate. Soon, Bao is being led into a crusade against the invaders by the Opera Gods, who inspire Bao and the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist. As the violence of the conflict escalates, Bao finds himself caught up in a conflict that he no longer has the power to co Tragic and intense story of China's Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Little Bao witnesses the injustices of the foreigners who have been bullying the common folk of China, and he begins the practice of Kung Fu, as the conflicts escalate. Soon, Bao is being led into a crusade against the invaders by the Opera Gods, who inspire Bao and the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist. As the violence of the conflict escalates, Bao finds himself caught up in a conflict that he no longer has the power to control. The working of Chinese mythology into the story provided some beautiful visual elements, but the story and the art do not shy away from the horrors of the conflict, and the mythical elements do not overshadow the human drama of the story. I look forward to reading the companion volume, Saints, which tells the story from the other side of the conflict.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dinh N. Dang

    One year ago, i readed the graphic novel name” American Born Chinese” of Gene Luen Yang. When I finished this book, i tried to find the new one. I went to library and found the novel name is “Boxers”. I don’t understand the title what they talking about? Why the author got name of the book is “Boxers”? When i read the book i can answer my question. The books talk some about fight between Christian and Chinese. When you read the summary you will be think “ oh! The story is bored” i will say with One year ago, i readed the graphic novel name” American Born Chinese” of Gene Luen Yang. When I finished this book, i tried to find the new one. I went to library and found the novel name is “Boxers”. I don’t understand the title what they talking about? Why the author got name of the book is “Boxers”? When i read the book i can answer my question. The books talk some about fight between Christian and Chinese. When you read the summary you will be think “ oh! The story is bored” i will say with you “ No” because beside that is some funny scene. Nothing is perfect, and the book same, they have pros and cons. For me, based on I am a fan with the author ,but “Boxers” is still have some good and some limit. I begin with 2 pros. First pros, the book is graphic novel its means they have picture. But the graphic novel of Yang make me think this is real because he draw is small detail like: emotion in the face, action in the body, in the people. He added on the story some sound like “punch punch” or “smack!” or “whump!” when people fight each other. Picture in “Boxers”’ is very nice, very clearly and follow to the speech. The picture help me improve imagination and harmony in to the story. Second pros, storyline they connect together did not separate, make me easy to read and understand what going on, make me can guess little bit in the next scene. Yang make the book have some stop between long story tell about what time and where the happen in the novel.For me, there are 2 famous pros thing show up in the book. Next thing, I talk about 2 cons. The book still have a lot of action and use some strong words. For example in page 192, have some scene use words:” kill them”. The picture at the end of page 285 is not good for young people.My thought, the book maybe not suitable with sensitive people like the student of elementary, and the people feel scared with action. Next opinion the book don’t need to have much imagination because make reader have some confuse like me at some time. This is the second graphic novel i really interesting and get in the my favorite list book. I want to recommend for anyone like the graphic book like me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sesana

    Joint review of both this and the companion volume, Saints. Boxers and Saints are both set in China during the Boxer Rebellion. Boxers is, naturally, from the perspective of one of the Boxers, while Saints is from the perspective of a Chinese girl newly converted to Christianity. I can't speak to the historical accuracy, or lack thereof, of either book, so I won't even try. I was surprised that Yang didn't include any historical context in either book, just a list of sources. Both books include Joint review of both this and the companion volume, Saints. Boxers and Saints are both set in China during the Boxer Rebellion. Boxers is, naturally, from the perspective of one of the Boxers, while Saints is from the perspective of a Chinese girl newly converted to Christianity. I can't speak to the historical accuracy, or lack thereof, of either book, so I won't even try. I was surprised that Yang didn't include any historical context in either book, just a list of sources. Both books include healthy doses of magical realism. In Boxers, Bao and his companions seem to literally transform into Chinese gods in battle. In Saints, Vibiana seems to have literally true visions of Joan of Arc. They also both have complicated portrayals of the rebels and the Christians. Neither side comes off as uniformly good or bad in the end, and that's obviously intentional. Either volume can be read in isolation, and you could read Saints before Boxers, but if you're going to read both, reading Boxers first will give you the better experience.

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