Today’s Book Spotlight is on Boxers by: Gene Luen Yang.
In the late 19th century, China was a very desirable place for foreign powers. Because of the country’s valuable resources, they started invading the land and attempting to stomp out the ancient traditions. Naturally, the Chinese people wanted to resist. Unfortunately, the consequences for those who resisted were often dire.
Little Bao lives with his father and three older brothers in a small farming village in rural China. One of his greatest pleasures is seeing the opera when it comes to town and praying to the village’s local god during festivals. However, during one of these festivals, a Christian missionary from the west shows up and smashes the god, sending the entire village into an uproar. When Little Bao’s father goes to appeal to the local magistrate to have the missionaries removed, he returns beaten and bruised, a shell of the man he once was. This spurs Little Bao to take action.
He meets a traveler and Kung Fu master named Red Lantern Chu who soon teaches the men of the village how to fight. Little Bao learns an ancient mystical way of fighting which calls down the gods of old to possess the bodies of the men and make them invincible during battle. Armed with this knowledge, Little Bao leads the men of his village across China to its capital city in order stop the Western invasion. At every village he stops at along the way, he recruits more men until he has an effective army at his disposal. Little Bao knows in his heart that what he plans to do once he reaches the capital is all to protect China, but the decisions he makes do not sit easy on him. Many are morally grey and he isn’t sure he can live with the consequences.
Boxers is the first half of the dual-book graphic novel Boxers & Saints, which tells the story of the famous Chinese Boxer Uprising. Boxers deals with the native Chinese perspective while second novel Saints deals with the Chinese Christian converts who side with the West. The novel is told from two perspectives to shed light on both side’s motivations and philosophies. Neither side was 100% right and neither side was 100% wrong. It is an interesting and innovative look at a historical event that is still talked about today. If you like historical fiction, fantastical elements, and heroes who have to make hard choices, this book is for you. To reserve a copy, please fill out a book request form.