Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Today I will be reviewing the book series Amulet by Kazu Kibushi. It's about a girl named Emily who finds a very powerful magic amulet in her great-grandfather's house. Soon after she finds the amulet, her mother is kidnapped by strange octopus creatures who take her to an alternate dimension that's a mix between steam punk and fantasy. When the creatures leave, Emily and her brother, Navin, follow them, in an attempt to save their mother. In this world, she meets her great-grandfather on his deathbed. His robot servants agree to help her find her mother.

I think the first book is a bit too slow because there isn't enough time spent in the alternate dimension, but after that, everything is perfectly paced. There are four story lines that are constantly switching and coming together. The story of Emily, the story of her brother, Navin, the story of one of the villains, Max, and the story of Miskit, Emily's great-grandfather's main robot.

 The art in these books is pretty good. It looks like an American version of manga. I also love all the steampunk things like robot houses and zeppelins.

  There are some characters in Amulet who are very strong and some who are not. At first, Navin is just the generic little brother, but later on in the series, he becomes a perfectly supportable character. He becomes less like the generic annoying nine-year-old brother and more like a mature fully grown warrior. I think that Emily is a great character. She's just enough badass hero and just enough immature teenager. I like how she's not invincible like some main characters.

In all, I think that Amulet is a wonderful book series. It's enjoyable for all ages and I've read each book multiple times. I can't wait for Book Six. I would give Amulet 4 1/4 robot houses out of five.    

Monday, October 7, 2013

Boxers and Saints

Today I will be reviewing Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang, the writer ofAmerican Born Chinese. It's a two book story about the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. Boxers is from the point of view of Bao, a leader of a group of Boxers. Saints is from the point of view of Vibiana, a Chinese Christian convert.

The story for Boxers is that Bao's town is being modernized by "foreign devils" or Western Christians. Bao's father goes to complain to the town magistrate in response to a Westerner smashing a sculpture of a god that was important to the village. On the way, he gets into a fight with a group of foreign solders. He comes home beaten and bruised. It becomes clear that Bao's father not only received physical damage, but mental damage as well. The author shows this by having Bao's father sit in a window with
scrubbily lines in word bubbles above his head. After four years, a man comes into town who knows Kung Fu and is a member of the Boxer Rebellion. He trains all the teenage boys in town and secretly trains Bao who is too young to be allowed to learn Kung Fu. Bao becomes a Kung Fu master and leads a group of vicious Boxers who transform into gods of the Chinese Opera when they fight.

The story for Saints is about a girl who is unwanted at home and converts to Christianity because her Christian acupuncturist shows her kindness. Soon after she converts, she is visited by Joan of Ark. Joan represents a role model. When the local French priest moves to a fort that protects the Christians from the Boxers, she follows him and he becomes a stern father figure for her. She is given the duty of being a teacher for the fort's orphans.

I think that the characters in Saints are more likable. As for the people in Boxers, I lost all sympathy for them in the first quarter of the book. They murder truckloads of men, women and children, Chinese and Western alike. Throughout most of the book, I felt like Bao deserved to die. No matter how regretful or hesitant he is, his bloodthirsty side always wins out. He may imagine that there is an Opera God telling him that he's doing a righteous thing, but that god is a figment of his imagination.

The art in these books is wonderful. I liked it a lot. It looked very similar to American Born Chinese. I loved how Saints is all black and white, except for Joan of Ark, who is bright gold. I also liked all the bright colors in Boxers, especially when the Boxers transform into opera gods. 

 Boxers and Saints are both very, very good. I've already re-read them 10 times. They're very dark, but I like dark. I would suggest that you read Saints before you read Boxers, because the ending to Saints is spoiled in Boxers. Also, Boxers and Saints are definitely not books for small children. There are some very violent scenes in both of them. I would give Boxers and Saints 4 Chinese Operas out of 5.