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Boxers & Saints (Boxers & Saints #1-2)

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  792 ratings  ·  159 reviews
Boxers & Saints Boxed Set Edition

One of the greatest comics storytellers alive brings all his formidable talents to bear in this astonishing new work.

In two volumes, Boxers &Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired
Paperback, Boxed Set, 512 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by First Second
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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
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346th out of 1,937 books — 4,474 voters
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15th out of 97 books — 67 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,979)
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First Second Books
Sep 10, 2013 First Second Books marked it as first-second-publications
You guys, these books.

Gene's been working on them since he finished AMERICAN BORN CHINESE in 2006, and he's gone to China and gone to France (with the Jesuit missionaries) to do research about this historical period, and all the issues -- of faith and identity and nationalism -- are all tied up with his own personal beliefs, so in short:

These books are so powerful and moving and emotional and personal and really, really wonderful.

Also, since this is a review of the boxed set, let me note the exc
Dec 04, 2013 Nicole rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: brainy academic types who consider themselves "of the people"
A well-executed project, to be sure.

My girlfriend asked, "WHY are you reading this?" and my answers were all rather esoteric and academic. Because it's a great project, because he does such a good job of framing the story and cultivating the Turn of the Page, because it's smart and savvy and clearly well planned.

She was not impressed.

I don't love these books, but I respect the hell out of them. GLY has some brilliant spreads (see page 173 of Boxers) and his research and story-telling prowess are
Agne Jakubauskaite
Mar 22, 2015 Agne Jakubauskaite rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who want to learn about The Boxer Rebellion
Recommended to Agne by: Panels and Pages Book Group

Gene Luen Yang’s “Boxers & Saints” is a two-volume graphic novel about The Boxer Rebellion in China at the turn of the 20th century. Although each book can be read as standalone, they work best as a set because they tell parallel stories of two Chinese bumpkins caught up on opposite sides of the same war.

The first volume, “Boxers,” follows Little Bao, a poor Chinese village boy who grows up witnessing foreign soldiers and missionaries bully, rob and kill Chinese peasants. Wi
Anne Broyles
Like many other readers, I had little knowledge of the Boxer Rebellion before reading these books. Yang has taken an important event in Chinese history and personalized it through the stories of two young people. Young Bao, who is influenced by the heroes of Chinese opera, chooses to join the Boxers who want to free China from the influence of foreigners. VIbiana becomes Christian, joining a community that offers her love and acceptance she never found in her family. IN slightly different circum ...more
Washington Post
The two books in this set are marvelously crafted. “Boxers” begins like the kind of legend the rebels might have told themselves, with its scrawny young hero seeking out the magical Master Big Belly to earn his sword, then conjuring up visions of gods as he single-handedly slaughters a cohort of imperial troops. Likewise, “Saints” (colored in sepia tones, aside from a handful of religious visions) has the tone of a fable at first, as the girl who will become Vibiana is advised by a raccoon on ho ...more
Julie Davis
Jen Ambrose's discussion both introduced me to these books and got me interested. Then I saw that other much trusted readers (the Hodges) were all on board and that got me really, really interested. These are graphic novels which I would have sworn is a medium I do not enjoy, until I got these from the library and simply could not put them down.

Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. Boxers is about Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose family and village are abused by Westerners who a
Rosamund Hodge
** See the original review as posted on Newsarama on Sep.11, 2013 here:

I'm going to go on a limb and guess the majority of Western readers aren't terribly familiar with the Boxer Rebellion, which took place at the turn of the 20th Century in China. Yet, this is where award-winning creator Gene Luen Yang sets his sights for his two-part original graphic novel set, Boxers and Saints, which tells two stories: The first book - Boxers - tells the story of a you
I was teaching weekly Bible studies when some of the children in my class introduced to me this graphic novel called Boxers. The kids told me it was a good story and that I would like it since it has to do with God and religion. After doing a little research myself and seeing glowing reviews of the book online I decided to give the book a shot. What at first began as a concern for the kids of whether they were reading appropriate materials turned out to be quite an enjoyable read. Although I rar ...more
Each volume works as a satisfying stand-alone graphic novel. Both stories are interesting, nuanced, and bring up the kind of questions of character, morality and motivation that make a story interesting. But together, they are not only a story of the Boxer Rebellion, but an examination of the idea of sides and war. Is there a good side and a bad side at all? Who are the heroes—or are there any? Who were the protagonists of the Boxer Rebellion?

This is a fascinating question that Yang asks, but I
Brendan Hodge
Yang's tale of the Boxer Rebellion and the search for cultural and political identity in turn-of-the-century China at first appears to be two almost independent stories that touch at only a couple points, but in the end the stories prove to be deeply connected. This is the sort of historical fiction which makes past events come viscerally and painfully alive, letting the reader identify deeply with people who for reasons that seem irresistibly compelling end up on opposite sides of a vicious con ...more
I'm glad to see this comic, which I originally read separately, sold as a boxed set. Ideally, in my opinion, these two volumes would NOT be offered separately, and maybe would be set up in a book that had one story from one cover and the other set in the flipped side. (I remember buying Maus I: My Father Bleeds History and then finishing it late at night and having to wait out the hours until I could run out and buy Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began. To me, those weren't two books, either.) As ...more
These were great comics. I sort of wish the two volumes weren't separated, as they make so much more sense when taken as a whole. I would recommend this box set over the volumes separately. I rather wish they didn't come separately at all. I received these books through Netgalley.

In Boxers, Little Bao is a peasant boy whose village is plundered by Western "missionaries". He joins a group fighting against the Westerners, but eventually splits off to form his own rebellion.
In Saints, a young girl
Gene Luen Yang's Boxers & Saints is a morally complex look at China around 1894 to the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. No one is totally good nor evil, and what starts off as a fairly straight forward proposition to rid China of "foreign devils" rapidly becomes more and more complicated. I am again impressed at how the graphic novel can be a medium to convey a complex and nuanced story. Also I liked the mixing in of references to The Romance of Three Kingdoms, the Oath of the Peach Garden, Chinese O ...more
Gune Luen Yang tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China through two vantage points in this boxed set. The first book _Boxers_ follows a young man who is trying to preserve the traditional Chinese way of life by fighting the European / Catholic presence that has been growing in China. The second book _Saints_ follows a young woman (a fourth daughter) who is trying to secure a more positive identity through her affiliation with the Catholic clergy, many of whom are ethnic Chinese also.

Paul Greer
Wonderful, beautiful, simple, complex. A very personal, magical realist take on the horrific events that unfolded in China at the turn of the century. It's in two volumes so he could present a story from either side. The cross over like Moon Knight and Hulk. It made me want to read the Bibliography. Yes, basically.
This book-in-two gives me pause as to the purpose of graphic novels. Here are two complex historical vignettes interwoven with overlapping characters. The story is intense and full of pathos: a young man and a young woman, both living in rural China in the late 1800s, are tragically destined to cross paths with Christian missionary westerners and each other.

The book's reader-friendly format (simple line drawings, simple dialogue) enabled me to quickly grasp the scope of events, but the reading
Review originally posted on Children's Atheneum

China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers are roaming the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Harnessing the powers of the ancient Chinese gods, Little Bao recruits an army of Boxers-commoners trained in kung fu. Together they fight to free China from the "foreign devils" (Christians) and "secondary devils" (Chinese converts).

Meanwhile, an unwelcome and unwanted fourth daughter seeks to find friendship and acceptance an
Boxers and Saints cannot be reviewed separately. You can’t read Saints without first reading Boxers, and you won’t fully appreciate Boxers until you finish Saints. They’re two sides of the same coin, two strikingly paralleled stories, and neither should be expected to stand without the other.

Boxers and Saints follow the lives of two children through the Boxer Rebellion of late Qing Dynasty China. The first is Little Bao, a boy who joins a grassroots uprising against the Westerners occupying his
This was a worthwhile departure from my usual reading.

Boxers & Saints is a pair of graphic novels that tell a story set in China during the Boxer Rebellion, which occurred at the turn of the century (1898-1901, roughly). The story is told from two points of view—a Boxer and a Christian. One book is about the Boxer side of the story, and the other is about the Christian side of the story.

I didn’t know any history about the Boxer Rebellion before I read this book, so I asked my friend Wikiped
Pat F.
In a nutshell, this is the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China, told in graphic form from two perspectives: that of Little Bao, a boy growing up in traditional fashion in a small village, and "Four-Girl," a runaway who finds a home in a Catholic missionary-led community. Both children are driven by visions over the years, of Chinese gods and of Joan of Arc, respectively.

This is a tough one for me. Better go with the Pros-Cons approach.

--Shines light on topic uncommon to a general American
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
This review first appeared on

If you have been anywhere around the blogosphere over the last year or so, you’ve probably heard of Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang’s companion-novel comics about the Boxer Rebellion. In Boxers, a village boy called Little Bao witnesses destruction, death, and abuse of power at the hands of Christians in China (both foreigners and native converts to the faith). Believing that he is possessed by the spirits of the gods, Bao organizes his fr
Matthew Zhang
The two books, Boxers & Saints are stories that explained the events of The Boxer Rebellion was a huge anti-Christian movement that occurred in China in 1898 by proto-nationalists and opposition of foreign imperialism. The book “Boxers” tells a story of a young Chinese boy called Little Bao, who leads the society of “The Righteous and Harmonious Fists” who harness the power of gods to rid China of Christianity and kill all people who refuse to give up their beliefs. Though their intentions w ...more
This came in a box set and this is a historical fiction set in the time called the Boxer Rebellion, which was an uprising between Chinese nationalism vs foreign imperialism and Christian missionary activity. An interesting piece of history that I learned from this comics. The most interesting thing I got from it is that it officially ended the Chinese Empire.

The art style was nice, quite cartoonish, although the art style didn’t feel fitting with some of the serious themes associated with the hi
Kat Ritchie
I always feel quite surprised when I finish a book in one sitting, or even in one day. I therefore managed to relish the feeling of surprise two days in a row by reading this double edged sword of a story, Boxers and Saints. Based on the boxer rebellion in China, which I know nothing about because my history is very poor (plus, I went to school in Malaysia where we only learn about Malaysian history), it tells the story from both sides; one book each. 'Boxers' follows Little Bao from his village ...more
Kevin Barry
Deserves to be regarded among the best graphic novels ever. Simply amazing!
4.5 stars.

I'm pretty new to graphic novels, aside from a short fascination in high school when I took an illustration class. But boy am I glad my boyfriend got me this boxed set for my birthday.

I was riveted by the stories in both books -- I finished them both in one day, and I even worked for eight hours in between reading sessions! The art was beautiful and even after just a few minutes of reading I was absorbed into the world of the novels. I loved that I was constantly surprised by the direc
Mar 13, 2014 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Stephanie by: American Born Chinese
Looked forward to this combo ever since reading American Born Chinese and hearing his next project was set in an intriguing historical context. More than anything I was hoping for rich, even-handed intertwining stories that felt faithful to the period, and I got that and more--Gene Luen Yang even taps into his characters' perception of spiritual reality in a similar way to what made American Born Chinese so unique, and no one else could have done it in quite the same way. I deeply enjoyed this n ...more
Vivek Tejuja
I had heard a lot about this graphic novel. Almost every book haul had it; almost everyone was talking about it online and offline (to some extent). I knew I had to pick this one up and I did and let me tell you that this one just did not disappoint at all. I had read, “American Born Chinese” as well, so I sort of knew what I was expecting from this one.

“Boxers & Saints” are two individual graphic novels, but can only be read as one, for them to make sense to the reader. The book is set in
Amanda Platt
I did not have much knowledge of the Boxer Rebellion before these books and reading about it through the perspectives of two opposite characters whose worlds intertwine in a heartbreaking, unpredictable way was the BEST way to learn about it. I loved combination of the use of Chinese mythology and Christianity as well the artistic representations in the two books. Definitely wouldn't recommend anything less than the boxed set!
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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.

More about Gene Luen Yang...

Other Books in the Series

Boxers & Saints (2 books)
  • Boxers (Boxers & Saints, #1)
  • Saints (Boxers & Saints, #2)
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“Tell me, Little Bao, have you ever gotten close to woman?'
'Well. . . '
'Close enough to smell her?'
'Ah! Even when they stink they smell like heaven! Women are something else? They're. . . they're magic!”
More quotes…