Illegal – Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin

Illegal by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Distributor
Published: August 7th, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Survival, Immigration, Realistic Fiction, Refugee, Siblings


This is a powerful and timely story about one boy’s epic journey across Africa to Europe, a graphic novel for all children with glorious colour artwork throughout. From Eoin Colfer, previously Irish Children’s Laureate, and the team behind his bestselling Artemis Fowl graphic novels.


I’m a little ashamed right now, because I received an unsolicited advance copy of this one about two months ago I believe, and I had no interest whatsoever in reading it.

Then, out of the blue, I stumbled across this book’s page on Goodreads and upon reading positive review after positing review – all praising this story – I finally decided to give it a try.

So if anyone dares say that Goodreads has no influence whatsoever on readers, well they are dead wrong (or don’t consult the site enough to become addicted to it like I am).

This is the very realistic tale of Ebo, a young boy who lives in a poor country. Ebo lost all of his family members. It started with his mother dying at a young age, then his father who fled, then his sister who did the same, and most recently his brother Kwame who decided to go find their sister and then come back for Ebo himself so they can all be together again.

It’s realistic because it shows that the authors have done their research or perhaps interviewed men and women who have had the same experience as Ebo. I’ve read previous books about illegal immigration and refugee status – a recent one being the memoir The Girl Who Smiled Beads – and all mention how rigorous, dangerous and heart-breaking leaving one’s country is.

Truly, one does not read such stories to be entertained. This was gripping indeed, and certainly moving, but not once did it make me laugh. It has certain joyful moments, but above everything, it has educational scenes. Another reason why this is realistic is because Ebo’s survival isn’t guaranteed. Clearly he’s the hero, so the reader cheers him on, but there is no guarantee he will make it out alive or even find his family.

To those of you who still believe that refugees will ruin your country, please remember that the reason why they became refugees in the first place was because they hoped for a better future, so condemning them will solve nothing. How about you help them get an education so they can get a job and contribute like you do instead? It’s all they really want… No one wants to be a charity case.

Oh, yes, and amazing book.


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