The Arrival by Shaun Tan

What's it about?

A nameless man leaves his family and travels to an Utopian city to escape a looming darkness in his homeland. Everything is different, and he meets other residents of the city who have also come from different places. He meets a war veteran, an escaped slave, and a family running from some sort of genocide. As time goes on, he settles in and familiarizes himself with the culture of the city. He makes friends who help him to build a social standing among his peers. After a year goes by, he is able to bring his family to the new city. At the end of the book, the reader sees our protagonist financially stable, and his family integrating into the city.

What did we like?

"The art was beautiful.I like that he didn't use words, because it forced us to create our own story." - Jennifer

"I find it interesting the way that Tan is able to drive his plot forward without use of dialogue, and experience the story exclusively through the interpretation of pictures." - Eric

"You have to develop your own dialogue." - Auciel

"The style is very reminiscent of Chris Van Allsburg and books like Flotsam by David Wiesner. I also liked how the color scheme, though it was very subtle, changed depending on what was going on." - Emma

"I liked how all the animals were crossed with another." - Emily

What didn't we like?

"I didn't understand the animals." - Jennifer

"I felt it was very blatant in places where it could have been more symbolic." - Renee

Who is it for?

Anyone can read this book, any age, any gender.

"It can mean anything to anyone, and I think that's the magic of it." - Emma

Is it good for book clubs?

Yes! There's lots of good discussion, and different members can interpret it differently.

You could also read...

  • Here by Richard McGuire
  • Flotsam by David Wiesner
  • Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
  • Goodbye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson
  • The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg