I have to start this book-crush post by saying I'm not really huge on graphic novels. Though my husband eats them up like a
The Arrival is a gorgeously illustrated wordless graphic novel about a man who migrates to a foreign place, hoping to start a new life for his family. Since the man can't communicate in his new land, we, the reader, can't communicate either, and so we are left to decipher meaning through facial expression, symbols, and gestures. The graphite drawings are done in a photo-realist style, in sepia tone, so you feel as if you are actually looking at historical artifacts.
Tan's talent for capturing true human emotion with a pencil is just astounding. Even though there were no words, I laughed over and over, I cried, and I felt moved by The Arrival. The story really highlights both the kindness and cruelty that humans are capable of, and I loved that one book could highlight both sides of human nature so well.
But probably my favorite thing about the book was the world-building. Tan says he drew a lot from immigrant experiences of his family members, and from pictures from Ellis Island - this is absolutely clear in the book. But all the sci-fi elements that make the setting feel so other-worldly are incredible. And again, even though Tan doesn't use a single word, I feel relatively confident that I could describe the basic structure of the society to you. Not necessarily the government operation, but definitely their transportation system, food acquisition, and customs and traditions. And the creatures included in the book were INCREDIBLE. The little guy featured on the cover was just one of many, many animals seen throughout the book. They all stole my heart and made me wish I could live in this world so I could have a little pet...whatever...of my own. (But I guess Evie and Millie will suffice for now. They are pretty cute.)
Even if you aren't a graphic novel person, I think this is a great introduction to the genre. It makes a beautiful statement without even using words, and tells this gorgeous story that will make you wonder why we even need words at all.