Fiction, History

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Thingsfallapart

Title: Things Fall Apart

Author: Chinua Achebe

Goodreads Plot: THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. THINGS FALL APART is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within.

My Thoughts: Chinua Achebe did a masterful job of portraying the clash between natives and the European missionaries. He was really the first person to write it from a third person perspective. He never sided with either the natives or the Europeans. He illustrated all the good and the bad of both sides. The book also really good job at exploring gender roles as well as defining masculinity in the native culture. The beginning of the book was slow for me as the author really takes his time building and describing the culture. While I did enjoy it, it did drag on. However, the second part of the book was amazing. It flew by much quicker. For a short book, the characters were incredibly developed  and complex. This review doesn’t do the book much justice. Everyone should just go read it.

My Rating: 10/10

Acquired: Library

Amazon goodreads

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Graphic Novels, History, Reviews

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Title: Boxers & Saints

Author: Gene Luen Yang

Goodreads Plot: (Boxers) 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.

(Saints) China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name by her family when she’s born. She finds friendship–and a name, Vibiana–in the most unlikely of places: Christianity.  But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie…and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

My Thoughts: I absolutely enjoyed this series. The illustrations were beautifully done and very clean. The production and quality of this series was superbly done. A++ for you. I was immediately drawn into the stories of both characters, Bao and Four-Girl. You are able to create an attachment with both of them even though they are on opposite sides. I actually checked some of my old history textbooks from college (I was an Asian Studies Major), and the books were historically accurate for the most part. I love how the author hinted at the main problem of the Boxer Rebellion which was a fundamental misunderstanding of the west. The Boxers thought the Westerners were these invincible devils who were not human.  On the other hand, the Chinese converts were made up of people who sincerely believed in Catholicism, people who did not fully understand the Catholic teachings, and people who converted for personal gain. It is very apparent that the author did his research, and I appreciate that. To me, Boxers is the main story line as Saints is an add-on, complementary story to the main book. This is probably my favorite graphic novel I have ever read. Everyone needs to pick this up. Right now. Go buy it.

My Rating: 10/10

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