Boxers by Gene Luen Yang – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommended: Unexpectedly, yes.
At the start I thought maybe for younger grades, now I’m thinking late middle or later. For a look at a history unknown in American public schools, for the whiplash turns of laughing to stunned silent darkness.
Summary, from Goodreads:
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.
Well. I certainly learned a bit of history. I laughed, particularly at our little lady being vaguely insulted at being told she had a face like an opera mask. Then abruptly my laughter ended at the conclusion of that interaction. Holy hell.
This story gets you, because you think it won’t take such dark turns. At least, I didn’t. I kept waiting to see the moments that Clarissa said she had to put the book down for a bit due to. Well, I found them.
The art style is lovely, I liked the simplicity that still gave such detail and life to the world and characters. The vibrant colors of the gods and fighting contrasted with the muted sepia colors of their daily lives through the villages. Story-wise, loved it. It ramped up pretty quickly, and felt like little Bao grew up exponentially faster as the story progressed.