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American Born Chinese

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  29,316 ratings  ·  3,711 reviews
All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey K...more
Paperback, 235 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by First Second (first published September 1st 2006)
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Watchmen by Alan MooreThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Best Graphic Novels
28th out of 1,774 books — 4,119 voters
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Best Young Adult Books
281st out of 9,048 books — 57,610 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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this book is the perfect antidote to the "graphic novels aren't real books" crowd's poison. it takes full advantage of the medium (lgm with the local boy scout troops), and just runs with it. this story could not have been told as well or as broadly using a more traditional narrative structure. and at the end, there is a perfect collapse - the three storylines streamline so perfectly into one message about cultural acclimatization and race-shame. and why it is bad. but not in a preachy way. it i...more
Dolly Ou
Dec 08, 2007 Dolly Ou rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Gene Luen Yang does a good job telling his story about his life (or not his own maybe) as a Chinese American. I was very excited to read this book becasue first it was a graphic novel and second his story sort of connects with me since I am a Chinese American myself.
Yang chooses an interesting title, "American Born Chinese". Its not one of those clever, thought provoking titles, but it is a rare one that you don't come across often. I sort of anticipated on what this story will be about, but w...more
I wrote a poem many years ago about wishing I was black so I could have an afro. How do you beat afros as a hairstyle? About the only way is by having afro puffs, which white dudes also can't have. Partially because they are white, and partially because they're dudes.


I used to skip over that page of job applications that asks your ethnicity. I thought it was stupid that anyone would care what my race, or my sex, was before deciding whether or not to hire me. Hahahah, I was soooo naive!

Since the...more
Jessica Abarquez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seth Hahne
It's funny that the most notable thing I can tell you about this book is that it's in colour.

That might not strike you as odd, but really, for the type of story Yang tells, the comics industry has almost universally awarded such stories a black and white printing. If not autobiographical, American Born Chinese is the kind of story that might very well be.

Examining the difficulty with which a child born in one country from parents of another country, the author explores the kind of dissatisfactio...more
Kevin Xu
This book mixes three different stories to combine as one overall book about how it is like being the An Chinese American boy. All story are mixed together so all one sees is the bites and parts until the end. The first story is the famous Chinese Fable, Journey to the West, but just with the Monkey King trying to teach morals. Then the second story, where the main character Jin Wang is introduced at age 9 as his family moves. It details his life from childhood until the end of middle school wit...more
This took all of about an hour to read and was totally worth it. Three stories of quiet power unfurl--the Monkey King, who undertakes a quest for dominance after a slight by the gods; Jin Wang, the title character and one of a handful of Asian students at his elementary school, trying to maneuver through bullies, love, and American culture; and Danny, a white teenager, and his Chinese cousin, Chin-kee, the embodiment of the racist Chinese stereotype. All three stories intersect in the climax, wi...more
I’ve been hearing about Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel American Born Chinese for months. The book won the Printz Award, was a National Book Award finalist, and was chosen the best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, etcetera, etcetera. This book has amazing credentials.

Considering all the buzz, all the acclaim, my expectations were so high that perhaps I could not help but be disappointed. The book is good, but is really great?

This is only the...more
The Flooze
The last book I read ended with the fierce hope that all of us might break free of the prisons of our own making, allowing us to embrace the beauty of the world with open hearts and minds. Interestingly, American Born Chinese expresses a very similar theme - though it does make the message more personal.

Consisting of three distinct stories, Yang’s graphic novel focuses most strongly on the acceptance of self. The main characters of these tales have identity issues galore. Jin, Danny, and the Mo...more
Separately, the three stories that make up this book are all immediately engaging and quite funny. Unfortunately, Yang tries to get fancy at the end, laboriously converging stories that were much better off on their own. The result is ultimately unsatisfying, a hasty wrap-up posing as innovative narrative. A shame, since until the overreaching conclusion I was feeling very four-star, even slightly five-star, about what I'd been reading. Three awesome graphic novels are better than one decent one...more
Aug 30, 2014 Ariel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own

Quite a quirky book, but it benefits from it. It does it's own thing and completely does it well. The themes were powerful and well delivered: I loved seeing the three different stories comment on racism, but more than that, self acceptance.

The art wasn't /necessarily/ outstanding, in the terms that I didn't find myself ogling over the illustrations. BUT, it was perfect for this story. It was wonderful! I liked it! Don't get me wrong! The monkey pictures were so cute!

I'll defin...more
Three interweaved stories culminate into a surprising and thought provoking climax in Gene Luen Yang’s “American Born Chinese.” This colorful graphic novel blends the tales of a Monkey King (an old Chinese fable), Jin Wang (a young Chinese American boy fighting a negative stereotype) and Chin-Kee (the literal stereotype Jin is trying to admonish). Yang cleverly explores the socially sensitive issues of self acceptance through their tales. The alternating accounts of transformation are animated i...more
Chad Bearden
Oct 16, 2008 Chad Bearden rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chad by: Kerri Harris
I think, to my middle school English teaching colleagues, I portray myself as hating anything that is written primarily for adolescents rather than for adults. In practice, this is basically true. Most of what I've read with the "Young Adult" label is adequately written but thematically obvious, and kids who get excited about such works are the kinds who are then able to brag that they read a great book, but without having to do any of the heavy intellectual lifting that is required from reading...more
The opening section of this graphic novel, the Monkey King story, was a little hard to get into at first because I felt like I was missing some kind of cultural knowledge that would help me understand the story better. It felt like if I were Chinese, perhaps I would have heard this story before and would have a better idea of where it was going, what kind of message it was trying to give me. Whether it was intentional or not, this initial disconnect to the story actually helped me better underst...more
May 26, 2007 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: New converts to graphic novels
I know this is shallow, but one of the things I like about graphic novels is that they're such fast reads. It was extremely satisfying to complete Yang's funny, engaging, and wise tale in under an hour - which included lingering over the simple, colorful artwork.

Yang weaves together three distinct stories that generate deft insights into racial identity, adolescent anguish, and the folly of hubris. Although I found each storyline interesting, my favorite was the legend of the Monkey King, whose...more
Elli (The Bibliophile)
I really enjoy Gene Luen Yang's art, and I liked how he created the characters (they were well developed.) I also really liked how he dealt with the problems faced by Asian-Americans (or any other visible minorities/immigrants really.)

At first, I found some aspects of Jin's story a bit disjointed, it seemed like (especially in the first couple of pages of his section) the author was trying to tell a lot in a short amount of time, so it felt a bit rushed.

I liked how there were 3 distinct storyli...more
Sunny Stone
Love this book!!! Great drawing and great designed plot. I enjoyed Yang's adaptation of the "pilgrimage to the west," and think he's wise to connect three seem-like irelevant stories with each other, which was a great suprise to see in the end.
I took an Asian American study class last summer,from which I realized it's never been easy for an Asian American to grow up in the United States. He or she may more or less subject to confusion by their looks. However, I learned it as an absolute bysta...more
Gene Luen Yang blends three stories (that of the famous chinese Monkey god from Journey to the West; the story of Jin Wang, an American boy born of Chinese immigrants; and Chin-Kee, a walking stereotype) into one humorous and thought-provoking story told in graphic novel form that reads like a self-effacing diary. His characters are funny and charming, and the three separate threads combine at the end to make them something greater than the sum of their parts.
American Born Chinese is easily a on...more
Nov 29, 2008 Mahrya rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ages 10-14
Shelves: juvenilia
Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese, First Second, 233 pages. Graphic Novel.

Description: This book tells three concurrent stories. In one, the Monkey King is punished for acting as though he is better than the gods and mortals around him. In the other two stories, Chinese American boys try to adjust to live in a mostly white high school.

Review: American Born Chinese, does a wonderful job of exploring the depths of what people can lose when they try too hard to assimilate. When Jin Wang is r...more
I gave this graphic novel 3.5 stars

I've been wanting to read this graphic novel ever since I saw it on FrenchieDee's YouTube channel. I found it at my college's library and read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed the storyline for the most part, but was left iunsatisfied by the end. To me, it seemed as if Yang ran out of steam before he had finished all the characters' stories. In short, the story was going good until it abruptly ended.

Nevertheless, the artwork in the book was really eye catchi...more
A masterpiece of storytelling that resonates long after reading. Gene Luen Yang weaves three tales that deal with identity and transformation. Each is entertaining and thought-provoking: the folk tale of the Monkey King, the personal story of Jin Wang and his struggle to fit into white America, and the story of Danny, a white student visited by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee who displays every known racial stereotype.

I rank this among the great graphic novels I've experienced: Maus, Watchmen, The D...more
This was my first graphic novel, and I have to admit that I was not originally open to the idea. I was immediately interested in both the writing style of the graphic novel and the three story lines: the Monkey King, Jin, and Chin-Kee. The novel also helped me to understand and disprove many Asian stereotypes. I loved the novel until the end where the three stories intertwine. I strongly disliked the way the stories came together; it would have made more sense if the stories ended in their own s...more
Oct 09, 2014 Agne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone who has ever wished to be somebody else.
Recommended to Agne by: Read and Meet Book Club

"American Born Chinese" is Gene Luen Yang's multiple-award-winning comic book, featuring three seemingly unrelated stories. The first tale is a well-known Chinese fable about the Monkey King, who is the master of kung-fu and the ruler of the monkey kingdom, Flower-Fruit Mountain. There is only one thing the Monkey King is unhappy about: he doesn’t want to be a monkey. The second story is centered around Jin Wang, American born Chinese, who transferred to a new school, where he i...more
Genre: Graphic Novel/Ethnic and Racial Stereotypes/Self acceptance

The stories of Jin, the Monkey King, and Chinkee are woven together to reveal that all three share a common thread: God made the to be "monkeys" for a reason. The story of Jin follows his transition into a predominantly white neighborhood and school until he finds one other american born chinese friend. As Jin tries to push aside his chinese heritage he sees the success his friend has at embracing his differences. The Monkey King...more
Hailee Christman
Yang, G. L., & Pien, L. (2006). American born Chinese. New York: First Second.
Multicultural/Graphic Novel
Selection Process: Reviewed in Booklist, September 1, 2006, retrieved from
Awards: Printz Honor, 2007

Vivid and bright colors make up for the truncated graphics on the page spreads of this wonderful addition to young adult graphic novels. American Born Chinese tells the three stories, interspersed with each other and each demarcated with an icon of the mai...more
I enjoyed this graphic novel. At its core it is the story of Jin Wang an Chinese American boy who wants to fit in with the people around him. He eventually befriends a Taiwanese boy names Wei-Chen Sun who is much more ethnic then him. Jin wants to fit in and be like the other American children but finds it difficult because of his upbringing. Told alongside and within Jin's story are the stories of the stereotypical Chin-Kee and the Monkey who was also unhappy with who he was until he learned it...more
I felt prepared to hate the graphic novel American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Why? Because satire is a tricky business; not everyone gets it. And for those who don’t, what is meant to ridicule can instead promote. Case in point, the 1970′s sitcom All in the Family was intended to ridicule prejudice, but some viewers missed the point and saw Archie as a champion of American values rather than as a myopic buffoon. Having now read American Born Chinese, I better understand its success among fa...more
Katy McCracken
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea Talarico
Andrea Talarico
Graphic Novel

Gene Yang created something brilliant with American Born Chinese. Using the unique graphic novel pictures-and-story approach, he weaves three seemingly unrelated tales together to form one sensitive and courageous narrative. One story involves the mythological Monkey King, who is embarrassed to be seen by his peers as a monkey and not a god. Another story involves the story of Jin Yang, an American boy born to Chinese parents who must deal with racism from his classma...more
N.T. Embe
Sep 22, 2011 N.T. Embe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoy surprise endings and good comedy with a lesson!
Recommended to N.T. Embe by: Comics and Graphic Novels (Class)
This ended up being one of those books that took a turn at the end where everything came together. It reminds me of Holes in that way. Three completely separate stories all going on at the same time, that eventually get tied in at the end to make for a meaningful and playful ending. It was not only an easy read, but it was an enjoyable one as well! I had fun with all three of the stories, and I really was able to relate to the individual characters. Not to mention, it's one of the few graphic no...more
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Gene Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 1997, he received the Xeric Grant, a prestigious comics industry grant, for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks, his first comics work as an adult. He has since written and drawn a number of titles, including Duncan's Kingdom (with art by Derek Kirk Kim) and The Rosary Comic Book. American Born Chinese received National Book Award.

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“It's easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you're willing to forfeit your soul.” 47 likes
"So what am I supposed to do now?"

"You know, Jin, I would have saved myself from five hundred years' imprisonment beneath a mountain of rock had I only realized how good it is to be a monkey."

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