Wednesday, March 13, 2013
A Review of 'American Born Chinese' by Gene Luen Yang
One simple goal:
To fit in.
Jin Wang starts at a new school where he's the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn't want to be associated with an FOB (Fresh Off the Boat) like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he's in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee's annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny's reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He's ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there's no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They're going to have to find a way-- if they want to fix the disasters their lives have become."
I haven't been terribly interested in graphic novels in the past, but lately, they've been super cool and I've wanted to read more of them. I'm currently in the middle of Watchmen by Alan Moore, but that'll be a review for another time. I just finished this book, which was another book for my YA Lit class. May I just say, I love how much of a variety of reads we've been assigned!
I had heard of this book prior to this class, but I think I blew it off because it was a graphic novel. I would not recommend that you do that. It's really a great read! It's uses a different kind of brain power than it does to read your average novel, since you have to take in both words and pictures simultaneously.
I really liked that there were three distinct story lines and I like that they were each told in a different way. One plot line revolved around Chin-Kee, a very obnoxious cousin of the character named Danny. Another revolved around the Monkey King, who masters all forms of Kung Fu and believes that he is better than the creator. The last plot centers on Gin, who tries to find his place in both Chinese and American culture. All of these plots come together by the end of the book and it makes for a really cool ending!
There is very little that I didn't like about this book. I didn't like Chin-Kee, for example, but you're not supposed to like him. Not really...
Overall, I thought the book was creative, well-written, and well-choreographed (if books can be choreographed).
I give 'American Born Chinese':