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(Boxers & Saints #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  16,750 ratings  ·  1,906 reviews
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 nothin
Paperback, 325 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by First Second
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Ian Young You should try to read them in order. Saints would be perfectly comprehensible if read first, but there's some beautiful interplay between the two, an…moreYou should try to read them in order. Saints would be perfectly comprehensible if read first, but there's some beautiful interplay between the two, and the meta-narrative definitely flows best if they are read in order.(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  16,750 ratings  ·  1,906 reviews

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Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it
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
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 ...more
Sam Quixote
Apr 21, 2022 rated it really liked it
After enduring a number of harsh setbacks including war and natural disaster, Chinese peasants in the late 19th century began an anti-colonial, anti-Christian uprising that grew and became known as the Boxer Rebellion (the Chinese militia practiced Chinese martial arts like kung fu which was known at the time as “Chinese boxing”, hence why they were referred to as “Boxers”). Gene Luen Yang captures the broad strokes of the historical event, from the Boxers’ perspective, in this book.

Yang’s comi
Liz Janet
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
First Second Books
Sep 24, 2013 marked it as first-second-publications
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.
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 ...more
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 ...more
Wyatt Packard
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction, graphics
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 ...more
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
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
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
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 ...more
Jon Nakapalau
The 'mirror' book to Saints; Little Bao loves the Chinese opera - he wants to do heroic deeds like the characters he has grown up watching. When the 'foreign devils' start to bully the people in his village he decides to join the growing Boxer Rebellion. After learning how to become 'possessed' by the gods of China he joins a group of young village boys/men who want to rid China of both 'foreign devils' and 'secondary devils' - Chinese who have converted to Christianity. The boys become avatars ...more
Colleen Fauchelle
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
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. ...more
Bryan Alexander
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: bd_etc, zh_tw_hk
I LOVE this art style! Combining historical fiction and magical realism done perfectly.
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Scott Foley
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Kayla Charisse
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?
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 ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
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
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars
destiny ♡ howling libraries
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mg, graphics
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' ...more
Rick Silva
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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. ...more
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. ...more
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Boxers and Saints 1 14 Mar 06, 2015 06:29PM  
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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.


Other books in the series

Boxers & Saints (2 books)
  • Saints (Boxers & Saints, #2)

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