Review: Boxers & Saints

Review: Boxers & Saints

Boxers & Saints

by Gene Luen Yang

Find it at: Your Library | Your Local Bookstore

Published: First Second, an imprint of Macmillan (September 10, 2013)

Recommended reading age: 12 & up

In a nutshell: I tend to use the word “favorite” on this blog quite liberally. This I know. But even so… I hope it doesn’t diminish the fact that if I had one favorite book of 2013, a favorite of all the favorites, Boxers & Saints would be it. It is a graphic novel broken up into two books, comprised of two parallel stories set in 1898, about the The Boxer Rebellion. At its center is a group of Chinese peasants trained in kung fu who fought against western “foreign devil” missionaries. There are two sides to every story, two sides to every war. Boxers depicts the side of the Boxers brigade who retaliate against the bullying of the incoming Westerners, while Saints reflects the side of the converted Christian Chinese peasants. Both main characters, Bao and Four-Girl, later named Vibiana, are each visited by their own mysterious spirit guides that lead them on opposite paths coloring both sides of the bloody story between Christian missionaries flocking to China at the turn of the century and those they sought to convert. A captivating two-sided tale with a touch of fantasy reveals the complexities of war as well as the human heart.

As tender as it is raw, Boxers & Saints is a masterful work of historical fiction storytelling. When I first started getting into reading graphic novels, the former Teen Librarian at the library where I work were recommended reading Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. I feel like you could also make the same recommendation with his latest, Boxers & Saints. It’s a great gateway book for those unfamiliar with reading graphic novels, yet it will surely pleased seasoned teen and adult readers.

Because of how much I enjoyed this book, because it’s the season of giving, because I’d like to do something for my book-loving friends who read this blog- I’m giving away one boxed set of Boxers & Saints. I’ve never hosted a giveaway here before, so HURRAH! Please be sure to enter below!

Part of a scene from Boxers:




Boxers-Final optimized 100-135

Don’t take my word for it: “I can’t speak highly enough of these books, especially for high school teachers. There is SO MUCH HERE that could be used in classroom activities. My little teacher brain was buzzing. I strongly urge those interested in Chinese history, the Boxer Rebellion, graphic novels, swords, cool gods, kung fu, Christian history, and ambiguous morality to read these companion novels.” – review from The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhhh!


Gene Luen Yang’s website

 NPR interview with author Gene Luen Yang


Giveaway :


1. You must be 13-years-old to enter.

2. You must be living in the US or Canada.

3. Giveaway will run until 11:59pm CST on 12/18.

Source of book reviewed: Review copy provided by the publisher.

image sources: 1, 2, 3


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