Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1643
Thought-Provoking and Unique
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
What I Liked:
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.

The Final Verdict:
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.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
It is twenty years since the events of La Belle...
Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The first book in an epic and romantic YA series...
Winter Light
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
WINTER LIGHT is the story of 15-year-old Mary Donahue...
Talent
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sandee Mason is convinced her life will change if she...
WITHIN THE FOLDS OF A SWAN'S WINGS
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
What if the one element that has always defined you...
The Good Girls
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
One of Us Is Lying meets Sadie in this twisty,...
Frozen 2: Dangerous Secrets: The Story of Iduna and Agnarr
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Iduna harbors a dark secret. On the surface, she...
All our Hidden Gifts
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Maeve’s strangely astute tarot readings make her the talk of...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Twelve-year-old Cassie needs a horse. She’s determined to move up...
A Higher Version of Me (The Destiny Clark Saga Book 9)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Just when everything seems to be perfect, it all falls...
A Happier Version of Me (The Destiny Clark Saga Book 8)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Two guys. One girl. A big confusing mess. ...
A Healthier Version of Me (The Destiny Clark Saga Book 7)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
She broke his heart. Will he ever forgive her? ...
A Steadier Version of Me (The Destiny Clark Saga Book 6)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
He wants her back, but she’s already taken. ...
A Stronger Version of Me (The Destiny Clark Saga Book 5)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Can new love heal old wounds? I want...
A Smarter Version of Me (The Destiny Clark Saga Book 4)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Can she keep him, or will his ex steal him...
A Bolder Version of Me (The Destiny Clark Saga Book 3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
When the truth is uncovered, the bullies come out to...

Latest Member Reviews

 
4.3
"If your expecting the same type of books that you’ve been reading in this series, you’d be wrong. This whole..."
The Kinder Poison
 
5.0
"From start to finish I absolutely adored this story. The opening scene was so much fun to read while Zahru..."
Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty, #1)
 
5.0
"HEIRESS APPARENTLY is a YA rom-com with deep themes that make it such an engaging and captivating read. Gemma is..."
The Good Girls
 
4.0
"THE GOOD GIRLS is an enthralling read. The book begins after the disappearance and seeming murder of the police chief's..."
All our Hidden Gifts
 
4.0
"Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet at her school. What starts off as curiosity,..."
Frozen 2: Dangerous Secrets: The Story of Iduna and Agnarr
 
4.7
"DANGEROUS SECRETS: THE STORY OF IDUNA AND AGNARR is a great MG/YA fantasy romance. Based on Frozen, this book tells..."
Hot British Boyfriend
 
4.0
"When Ellie is completely humiliated by her best friend an crush, she decides the best way to escape her jeering..."
The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising, #2)
 
4.7
"THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL continues Guinevere's story as she seeks to find her footing in a world that keeps throwing her..."
Loveboat, Taipei
 
4.7
"WHAT I LOVED: Ever’s pushy parents have already gotten their way by making her apply to medical school, but..."
The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea
 
5.0
"THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA is a lush, beautiful, and romantic fantasy that follows Flora, now living as..."
Super Fake Love Song
 
4.3
"SUPER FAKE LOVE SONG is a YA contemporary romance about siblings, feeling like an outcast, and friendship. Sunny definitely feels..."
The Companion
 
5.0
"Margot is the survivor of a devastating accident in which her entire family drowns in their car. She is taken..."
How It All Blew Up
 
4.3
"Amir is an Iranian American teenager who is gay and in the closet. When another student blackmails him about his..."
Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)
 
5.0
"I really enjoyed Skyhunter, another winner from Marie Lu. Talin is a refugee and is mute. She is a Striker,..."
Now That I've Found You
 
4.0
"Evie is a young actress living in L.A. and has a legacy to live up to. Her parents are famous..."
Clown in a Cornfield
 
3.3
"When Quinn and her father move to a tiny town, she's hoping to fit in and finish high school. Kettle..."
Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA
 
4.7
"'Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA,' edited by Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma,..."
 
4.0
"Maisie is a young teenage girl growing up in the Bronx. The story takes place during the early 1960s. Maisie..."
Sing Like No One's Listening
 
3.0
"SING LIKE NO ONE'S LISTENING is a YA fiction about grief and anxiety. Nettie lost her mother unexpectedly after a..."
We Are Lost and Found
 
4.3
"WE ARE LOST AND FOUND is a profound historical fiction read that takes place in the early 1980s NYC. Michael..."