American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Posted April 13, 2015 by shooting in Uncategorized / 19 Comments

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently
unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his
family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at
his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest
and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the
ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s
life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with
an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax.

Review: Reading the above summary and seeing this book stated as a fable, American Born Chinese makes a little more sense to me. I do have to admit though, that I finished this book mostly thinking “what?” I liked Jin Wang and how it’s tough for him to be the only Chinese-American student at his school. I was even okay with the Monkey King because I’ve read other books by Gene Luen Yang, and it seems like a normal aspect of his work. Overall though, this book was a bit too strange for my liking. There is a twist at the end that was interesting…but I’m not entirely sure I could reconcile the twist with the rest of the book. It just didn’t really make sense to me.


I read this book for my YA Literature Course – we had to choose a Printz Award winning book and I’d been curious about this graphic novel, so I thought I’d try it out! In the end, I’m happy to have given this a chance but I’ll stick to other works by this author.

19 responses to “American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

  1. Glad you gave this a chance but sorry it didn't quite work out for you. Nothing worse than wondering what in the heck just happened and what in the world did you just read. 😛

  2. Oh, bummer. It sounded promising, at least, shame it was a bit too weird for you (though totally get it) and was interested in that twist until it felt random. 🙁 Hope your next pick is better! 😀

  3. That's too bad that it was a little too strange. I'm not a graphic reader but I know what you mean. Hopefully the next one is more up your alley!

  4. I've always wanted to try different sorts of reads, and this book does sound interesting, I am intrigued about the twist at the end. I'm sorry you weren't able to enjoy this one more. But great review! 🙂

  5. I really loved Boxers & Saints by Gene, and I've been wanting to go back and read this one. It does sound a bit strange, but I'll probably still give it a go. Great review!

  6. I'm curious to know if it actually reads like a comic book? Also, is it a children's book? My eldest is currently learning about the California Gold Rush and the commencement of Chinese immigrants in America. This would be a fun read I think 🙂

  7. I think I have this book (or another by Gene) on my to-read list. Have always been very interested in Asian-american literature. I might, like you advise, start with another of his books first …

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