Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review - The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Title: The Arrival
Author: Shaun Tan  
Year: 2007
Page: 128  
Genre: Graphic Novel

New to me author? Yes  
Read this author again? YES!
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? Earth...  
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from  
Tan captures the displacement and awe with which immigrants respond to their new surroundings in this wordless graphic novel. It depicts the journey of one man, threatened by dark shapes that cast shadows on his family's life, to a new country. The only writing is in an invented alphabet, which creates the sensation immigrants must feel when they encounter a strange new language and way of life. A wide variety of ethnicities is represented in Tan's hyper-realistic style, and the sense of warmth and caring for others, regardless of race, age, or background, is present on nearly every page. Young readers will be fascinated by the strange new world the artist creates, complete with floating elevators and unusual creatures, but may not realize the depth of meaning or understand what the man's journey symbolizes. More sophisticated readers, however, will grasp the sense of strangeness and find themselves participating in the man's experiences. They will linger over the details in the beautiful sepia pictures and will likely pick up the book to pore over it again and again.

First Sentence:  
n/a - it's wordless.

Why did I pick this book?
Read many GREAT reviews of this book. Wasn't sure if I was going to pick it up after trying some graphic novels earlier and didn't like them. But saw some other drawings done by this author and really liked it, so thought I'd give it a chance   

My thoughts:
  • Wow. I LOVE his drawings - very detailed, amazingly realistic, and full of emotion. 
  • Calling this a graphic novel almost seems a bit insulting. His drawings are definitely a work of art. Something you can tear out from the book and frame it and hang it on the wall.
  • When they say a picture is worth a thousand words, you can definitely use this phrase to describe this book - and there are many pictures in this book, and without any words! I can't imagine the time and effort the author put into it (not to say that it doesn't take an author a lot of time and effort to WRITE a book... but typing something out seems easier than drawing something out!)
  • I could definitely relate to the story, having been a migrant TWICE. No where near the same experience as the story in the book, but the emotions you feel when leaving your family behind is the same nonetheless. 
  • 4.5 Stars instead of 5 - only because I haven't felt the need to buy this book for keep... (yet?) Told you it's hard for me to give out a 5!
    Rating:   4.5 Stars

    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!

    100+ Reading 


    1. Hi, thanks the Cantonese MTV link for my most favorite cartoon series, 千年女王!!

      Did you grow up in Hong Kong too? Just curious.

    2. Those illustrations are amazing! I really want to read one of Tan's books.

    3. @China - I was born in Hong Kong, left as a teenager though! Cartoons I watched more were 我係小忌廉, 忍者小靈精, 叮噹 off the top of my head...

      @bermudaonion - This was a very quick read - though I am sure it is a book that you can just keep reading again and again to study the drawing!

    4. I was born in India, but am now in the US. I'm not a migrant, and I hope to return home sometime soon. So I definitely could connect with this story very well. Good review! Your thoughts echo mine!

    5. @Aths - Glad to hear you like it too! I don't even know where home is anymore because I love all 3 different cities I have lived in for different reasons...

    6. christa, funny that you mentioned what I heard Shaun Tan said, about how it's easier to type that to draw something out! :D