PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT: THOUGH THIS IS AN #IMWAYR POST, IT IS IN FACT POSTED ON WEDNESDAY, NOT MONDAY. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION AND ATTENTION FOR THIS ANNOUNCEMENT.
Well, now that the PSA is over, let’s get back to the book review!
It’s kind of crazy that a year ago, I’d hardly heard of a graphic novel, let alone read one. After reading Persepolis (and loving it), I got wind of Boxers and Saints. After hearing great things about it, my curiosity took over and I checked it out. Once again, I wasn’t disappointed.
Boxers and Saints: Boxers centers around Bao, the youngest of three brothers living in a small village in China with their father. Bao’s life is the life of a common farmer, but the highlight of each year is the arrival of the spring festivals. Each year, food and music are plentiful, and Bao gets to see his two favorite things: the statue of the local earth god, Tu Di Gong, and the operas. Bao lives and breathes for the operas, and even has the “gods of the opera” accompany him throughout the autumn and winter.
All of this changes when the missionaries of the west begin to invade China, destroying idols and precious relics of the villagers. Bao wants to fight back, but after his father is injured permanently by foreign soldiers, he is resigned to taking care of his father and doing his regular duties; however, when mysterious kung-fu master Red Lantern comes to his village and teaches the boys in the village Kung-Fu, he becomes a brother-disciple of the Big Sword Society, a vigilante group dedicated to protecting Free China from the “foreign devils” of the west. After being chosen to harness the powers of the Gods and teaching his fellow brother-disciples, Bao becomes the leader in the fight for China and will stop at nothing to protect his country.
I finished this novel in two hours; that’s how intrigued I was with this story. The really neat thing about this novel is that it’s actually one half of two volumes; the other, Saints (big surprise, huh?), is told from the perspective of Vibiana, a converted Christian Chinese. I haven’t read Saints yet, but after reading Boxers you can bet that’s what I’m onto next. It’s a genius take on the Boxer rebellion, and the “two sides to every story” aspect is visible throughout this book, even though it’s half to a whole.
If anyone is still looking for a graphic novel, this is a great one to start with. If you start with Saints, though, don’t spill the goods—I’m eager to read Vibiana’s side.
Happy reading (and Easter!), fancy friends.