"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Boxers and Saints (Gene Luen Yang)

So, this post is actually covering two books by Gene Luen Yang: Boxers and Saints.  As I'm writing this, I have just finished Saints, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about things.  This duo of books presents a story from two opposing viewpoints, leaving the reader to determine for themselves which side is right.  See, the story takes place during China's Boxer Rebellion, when the native Chinese rebelled against foreign invaders, including Christian missionaries.  Boxers is told by the young man who leads the rebellion.  Saints is told by a Chinese girl who converts to Christianity.

I'm very open about being Catholic.  I don't run around telling people for no good reason, but
if someone asks, or it comes up in conversation, I'm happy to tell people about my faith.  But, even so, I found this a difficult book series to read, not because I hated it, but because I was not sure who to side with.  When you read Boxers, it is obviously painting the Christians as evil, "foreign devils".  But, at the same time, Saints redeems the Christian image.  It was a very powerful read.

I liked each book for different reasons.  Boxers, hands down, had the cooler storyline.  I mean, with their homeland being invaded and their culture destroyed, a group of Chinese nobodies join forces and under the influence of a sacred ritual, become the living embodiment of their gods.  The art style was amazing, and each god's costume was beautifully and intricately designed.  The battle scenes drew you in and left you breathless as you waited to see what the outcome would be.  Saints was a story of faith and second chances.  While Bao was confident in his gods and his rituals, Vibiana struggles with her faith.  It's not a preachy "I'll be Christian!" story, but it shows the real struggles of being a religious minority in a time of persecution.  While Saints was not as visually pleasing as Boxers, the story was, in my opinion, deeper and richer.  I wish that it was a little bit longer.

All in all, this was a great series.  And I highly recommend it to any of you with an interest in history, religion, or China.

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