Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times
Notable Children's Book (Young Adult) for 2011 Smackdown!
Video Games vs. Medical School!
Which will win the battle for our heros attention in Gene Luen Yangs new graphic novel?
Dennis Ouyang lives in the shadow of his parents high expectations. They want him to go to med school and become a doctor. Dennis just wants to play video games—and he might actually be good enough to do it professionally.
But four adorable, bossy, and occasionally terrifying angels arrive just in time to lead Dennis back onto the straight and narrow: the path to gastroenterology. Its all part of the plan, they tell him. But is it? This powerful piece of magical realism brings into sharp relief the conflict many teens face between pursuing their dreams and living their parents.
Partnered with the deceptively simple, cute art of newcomer Thien Pham, Gene Yang has returned to the subject he revolutionized with American Born Chinese. Whimsical and serious by turns, Level Up is a new look at the tale that Yang has made his own: coming of age as an Asian American.
"Yang, writer-artist of National Book Award finalist American Born Chinese, writes this magical-realist tale of Asian-American parental pressure and video-game escape, leaving the art to up-and-comer Pham. Dennis Ouyang struggles with the burden of his dead father's orders that he study hard, go to med school, and become a gastroenterologist. When Dennis, inspired by four mysterious angels, gives up his passion video games and buckles down to his studies, he befriends three fellow second-generation students and begins to make a place in med school. But a crisis in confidence reveals the true nature of his guardian angels, and the real source of his father's dreams for his only son. Pham's watercolors can be charming, but his primarily gray and brown palette gets visually monotonous; thankfully, his work increases in energy as the plot does. Yang's familiar story of immigrant striving and filial rebellion gets just enough juice from its connection to arcade culture. A bravura storytelling and visual twist near the end brings together the plot's several strands. A minor work from Yang, but a welcome introduction to Pham, whose own upcoming First Second graphic novel, Sumo, looks promising. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Dennis, the son of Chinese immigrants, yearns to play video games like his friends and, upon his strict father's death, becomes obsessed with them but later, realizing how his father sacrificed for him, he chooses a nobler path.
This striking, full-color graphic novel follows Ichiro as he moves from New York to Japan where a shapeshifting tanuki brings him on a fantastic adventure into the mythological world of Japanese gods.and#160; This journey brings him closer to his Japanese roots, and to understanding the nature of good and evil, war and peace, gods and men.
Ichiro lives in New York City with his Japanese mother. His father, an American soldier, was killed in Iraq. Now, Ichiand#8217;s mom has decided they should move back to Japan to live with Ichiand#8217;s grandfather.
and#160;and#160;and#160;Grandfather becomes Ichiand#8217;s tour guide, taking him to temples as well as the Hiroshima Peace Park, where Ichi starts to question the nature of war. After a supernatural encounter with the gods and creatures of Japanese mythology, Ichi must face his fears if he is to get back home. In doing so, he learns about the nature of man, of gods, and of war. He also learns there are no easy answersand#8212;for gods or men.
Yumiko was born in Japan but has made a life in London, losing herself in its cosmopolitan bustle. She has a gallery show of her art, a good job, and a good guy she plans to marry. The culture she grew up in seems very far awayandmdash;until her brother phones with the news that their father has died. Yumiko returns to Tokyo and finds herself immersed in the rituals of death while also plunged into the rituals of lifeandmdash;fish bars, bullet trains, pagodasandmdash;as she confronts the question of where her future really lies. Just So Happens
deals both gently and powerfully with grief, identity, and the pressure not to disappoint oneandrsquo;s parents, even after theyandrsquo;re gone, in a look at the relationships that build the foundation of our lives.
About the Author
Gene Luen Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 1997, he received a Xeric Grant for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks, his first comics work. He has since written and drawn a number of titles, including Duncans Kingdom, The Rosary Comic Book, Prime Baby and Animal Crackers. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. He also won an Eisner for The Eternal Smile, a collaboration with Derek Kirk Kim. Yang lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he teaches high school. He got his Masters in Education at Cal State Hayward, where he wrote his thesis on using comics in education. THIEN PHAM is a comic book and visual artist, based in the Bay Area. He is also a high school teacher. Pham illustrated Gene Luen Yang's Level Up, a YALSA Great Graphic Novel and New York Times Notable Children's Book. Sumo is his first solo work.