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by Gene Luan Yang

illustrated by Gene Luan Yang


School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ (The following is a combined review for Boxers; Saints) Gr 9 Up — Acclaimed graphic novelist Yang brings his talents to historical fiction in these paired novels set during China’s Boxer Rebellion (1899–1900). In Boxers, life in Little Bao’s peaceful rural village is disrupted when “foreign devils”-a priest and his phalanx of soldiers-arrive. The foreigners behave with astonishing arrogance, smashing the village god, appropriating property, and administering vicious beatings for no reason. Little Bao and his older brothers train in kung fu and swordplay in order to defend against them, and when Little Bao learns how to tap into the power of the Chinese  gods, he becomes the leader of a peasant army, eventually marching to Beijing. Saints follows a lonely girl from a neighboring village. Unwanted by her family, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name until she converts to Catholicism and is baptized-by the very same priest who bullies Little Bao’s village. Four-Girl, now known as Vibiana, leaves home and finds fulfillment in service to the Church, while Little Bao roams the countryside committing acts of increasing violence as his army grows. Mysticism plays a part in both stories, and Yang’s spare, clean drawing style makes it clear that Vibiana’s visits from Joan of Arc and Bao’s invocation of the powerful Chinese gods are very real to these characters. The juxtaposition of these opposing points of view, both of them sympathetic, makes for powerful, thought-provoking storytelling about a historical period that is not well known in the West.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD –Paula Willey (Reviewed July 1, 2013) (School Library Journal, vol 59, issue 7, p106)


  • Booklist Editors’ Choice – Books for Youth – Older Readers Category: 2013
  • Conflicted: Life During Wartime (2014)
  • Los Angeles Times Book  Prizes: Young Adult Fiction
  • School Library Journal Best Books: 2013
  • YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens: 2014


10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 9th Grade, Adult, Folklore, Graphic Novel, Teen