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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 by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.
But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.
Boxers & Saints is one of the most ambitious graphic novels First Second has ever published. It offers a penetrating insight into not only one of the most controversial episodes of modern Chinese history, but into the very core of our human nature. Gene Luen Yang is rightly called a master of the comics form, and this book will cement that reputation.
Combining stirring imagery with a spare but poignant text, Gene Luen Yang takes the graphic novel to new heights, revealing how truly powerful a literary form it can be. Set during China’s Boxer Rebellion, Boxers & Saints weaves fantasy and history, humor and pain, to form a moving tale of how, while seeking to right great wrongs, people can go too far and find themselves committing deeds far worse than those they sought to redress.