When you mention the words graphic novel, most people assume you are going to be talking about superheroes or fantasy themes. There are, however, a wide range of genres that are in no way connected to mutants, space creatures, science experiments, and the like. Sometimes, authors use sequential art to reach new fans or tell their stories in a new way. Illegal definitely falls into this latter category, as I will explain below.
Our main character is named Ebo, a 12-year-old boy from a poorer than poor village in Ghana. This is his story of how he attempts to escape the shackles of poverty and make a new life for himself and his family in Europe. The best laid plans do not always work, unfortunately. The tale begins in the middle, but we get to jump back and see the events that started our young protagonist on his path to a new life.
Ebo awakens one day to find his brother Kwame had left to journey to Agadez, seeking their sister Sisi, who had left months prior to seek employment and secure travel for her family. But time has passed and no one has heard from her. So one brother leaves and the other follows, hoping and praying that they can find their sister and improve their own lives. Between them, the brothers endure travesty and pain on a daily basis as they seek transportation to their new lives. As people near them suffer and die, they have each other to keep them strong and focused, though they falter occasionally. But while this story has a happy ending, there is much to be sad about.
The story is one all too common today, in days past, and probably many to come. So many people seek to improve their lot in life, but find themselves unable. I cannot even begin to express the myriad of emotions that I experienced whilst reading this graphic novel. There is a sense of excitement that is draped in a cloak of anxiety and pain. So many people perish every day as they try to make their way from one place to the next. In this case, it is going from Ghana to Italy, looking for a brighter future. The sheer number of people that seek to profit off of the hopes and dreams of others is shown here and it represents those despicable individuals who unfortunately exist everywhere.
Authors Eoin Colfer, of Artemis Fowl fame, and Andrew Donkin did an amazing job creating a story to show us the heartbreaking tale of a refugee who sacrifices everything to find a better life. Coupled with the spectacular art of Giovanni Rigano, they create a bond with the characters that is seldom seen. This journey is one of sorrow, pain, and occasional happiness. It teaches us that there is more to life than stuff, that you are defined by more than your things.
I read Illegal twice. It was not an issue of comprehension, but rather a feeling of awe. There is a power to the words on these pages, an empathy for those less fortunate is natural. Unfortunately, we are not as aware as we should be to the plight of our fellow humans the world over. It is my hope that comics such as this will help to ensure we not only become more knowledgeable, but maybe also reach out and help those who need it most. I applaud this team of creators for shining a light on the migrant issues in Europe. Buy this book, folks. It may open your eyes and hopefully your hearts.
A powerfully moving graphic novel by New York Times bestselling author Eoin Colfer and the team behind the Artemis Fowl graphic novels that explores the current plight of undocumented immigrants.
Ebo is alone. His brother, Kwame, has disappeared, and Ebo knows it can only be to attempt the hazardous journey to Europe, and a better life”•the same journey their sister set out on months ago.
But Ebo refuses to be left behind in Ghana. He sets out after Kwame and joins him on the quest to reach Europe. Ebo’s epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his family.
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