China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.
Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers--commoners trained in kung fu--who fight to free China from "foreign devils."
Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils"--Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
This wasn’t a light read, but rather had inspired by true historical events (with some magical realism thrown in) and they’re heavy. Gene Luen Yang does a fantastic job portraying what would have led Little Bao and the rest of his fighters to rebel, and how that becomes twisted towards the end. In the beginning, you cheer for justice and defense of the little old ladies, but towards the end, the purpose has changed dramatically. Leaders are forced to make hard decisions and no mercy goes unpunished.
In “Saints” we’ll have the opportunity to understand from the opposite side’s perspective, and I have a hunch that there are not really winners on either side.
Warning: Repeated violence in detail.
Rating: 4 stars!
Who should read it? Folks that think historical fiction with a dose of magical realism sounds fantastic!
Want to read the whole series? Each book is two sides of a single coin – I’ve been told that if you read one, you really should read the other! That will be my next library request.
- Saints (Boxers & Saints #2)