American Born Chinese (Graphic Novel Review)

American Born Chinese (Graphic Novel Review)

Mar 01


Recently dropped by the bookstore and picked up American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. The book gives us three seemingly-separate (but interestingly-interrelated) tales about the frustrations of being different.

First, there’s the Monkey King who tries to gain acceptance amongst the gods. Don’t mess with this monkey (or even dare calling him that) because he is actually a Kung Fu master. He, however, had to learn his lesson that pride is a prison and the only way to get out is to be humble.

Next, we have Jin Wang, a Chinese boy struggling to find his place in an American school – and falling in love with an American girl, along the process. He eats sandwich during lunch because his classmates made fun of him for eating dumplings. Lastly, we have Danny, a popular student who had to transfer several times because of Chin Kee, his annoying cousin who often has to visit him – and embarrass him in front of everyone.


Artwise, Gene’s clean lineart is a guaranteed eye-pleaser. Somehow, the style reminds me of homegrown talent Bien Del Rosario.

Gene’s panelling is extremely easy to follow and the details he puts in the background can be very admirable. Plus I love his skilful use of repeated panels with little alterations (I’m not sure if that’s how they’re called). They add the needed drama (or humor) to the pages.


I actually brought one more graphic novel when I got this but after finishing it, I felt the other title had to wait. I wasn’t ready to read a new story. I wanted to ponder the book’s message in the days to come.

Truly, I find American Born Chinese to be very heart-warming – edifying, even – with its core message of accepting who you really are and being proud of it. Kudos to Gene Yang for creating characters that readers can easily identify with and care about.

This is a must-have. This is a masterpiece.

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