Gene Luen Yang is an award-winning author of graphic novels, and if you are like me (hope not) you had not heard of Mr. Yang.  So I decided to take a look at a few of his books, he has written more than I have highlighted here (he is currently writing the Avatar: the last Airbender graphic novel series).

geneAuthor self portrait

 

level upLEVEL UP

First things first, how cool is the cover?!  For those not in the know the cover looks like a Nintendo GameBoy.  Ok, enough gushing about the cover.  Dennis Ouyang is a struggling college junior who is being kicked out of college, due to his constant video gaming playing.  His parents (mainly his dad) have expectations of Dennis becoming a Gastroenterologist (a doctor “concerned with the disorders of the stomach, intestines, liver and associated organs”).  But Dennis is tired of school and not living up to his expectations, so 4 cute angels appear to “help” him achieve his destiny and stay on track.

Besides the cover I also liked the story.  At some point all of us have to deal with parental expectations and the way Dennis dealt with his was just like any of us would do, he failed, tried again, backed out, and finally found his own way.

ETERNAL SMILE

eternal smileThree short stories in which fantasy and reality melt together.  In the first story, “Duncan’s Kingdom”  a brave and valiant knight, Duncan, has the princess’s love and everything is going his way.  But he has a nagging dream of another woman, who he has a feeling he owes her something.  Finding out what it is will destroy this world.

In “Gran’Pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile, Gran’Pa is a greedy frog that believes making money keeps him happy and he is willing to gain money any way he can.  When a “smile” appears in the sky Gran’Pa has a plan to manipulate this “spiritual” sign into a way to make money and make himself happy, he finds out how wrong he is.

“Urgent Request” was my favorite.  Janet starts a romantic email relationship with a Nigerian prince that needs her help and her banking information…

boxerssaintsBOXERS & SAINTS

These take a look at different perspectives of the opposing sides fighting during the Boxer Rebellion, that occurred in China in 1900.  Volume 1 follows Bao as he tries to protect peasants and China from the foreigners.  Volume 2 follows Four-Girl, who looks for acceptance, finds it with the foreigners and is caught in the middle.

A school in New Jersey was using these books to teach Chinese history and critical thinking skills, the teachers from the Peck School have a blog about their experiences on the author’s website www.geneyang.com/genes-blog.

AMERICAN BORN CHINESE

abcThree stories are intertwined into one.  The overall theme of the stories is the belief, of all of the characters, that in order to be accepted by a larger society one needs to become like that society (not true by the way).  But I love the way the author weaves all 3 of the stories into one.  This is my favorite book by Yang.

If you hadn’t heard of Gene Yang before this, take a look at his books! If you had heard of him feel free to gloat and let me know which of his books you enjoyed the most.

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