The Illegal by Lawrence HillThe Illegal by Lawrence Hillsticker-burst

The Illegal

byLawrence Hill

Hardcover | February 1, 2019

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Keita Ali is on the run.

Like every boy on the mountainous island of Zantoroland, running is all Keita's ever wanted to do. In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect. Running means riches-until Keita is targeted for his father's outspoken political views and discovers he must run for his family's survival.

He signs on with notorious marathon agent Anton Hamm, but when Keita fails to place among the top finishers in his first race, he escapes into Freedom State-a wealthy island nation that has elected a government bent on deporting the refugees living within its borders in the community of AfricTown. Keita can stay safe only if he keeps moving and eludes Hamm and the officials who would deport him to his own country, where he would face almost certain death.

This is the new underground: a place where tens of thousands of people deemed to be "illegal" live below the radar of the police and government officials. As Keita surfaces from time to time to earn cash prizes by running local road races, he has to assess whether the people he meets are friends or enemies: John Falconer, a gifted student struggling to escape the limits of his AfricTown upbringing; Ivernia Beech, a spirited old woman at risk of being forced into an assisted living facility; Rocco Calder, a recreational marathoner and the immigration minister; Lula DiStefano, self-declared queen of AfricTown and madam of the community's infamous brothel; and Viola Hill, a reporter who is investigating the lengths to which her government will go to stop illegal immigration.

Keita's very existence in Freedom State is illegal. As he trains in secret, eluding capture, the stakes keep getting higher. Soon, he is running not only for his life, but for his sister's life, too.

Fast moving and compelling, The Illegal casts a satirical eye on people who have turned their backs on undocumented refugees struggling to survive in a nation that does not want them. Hill's depiction of life on the borderlands of society urges us to consider the plight of the unseen and the forgotten who live among us.

LAWRENCE HILLis the award-winning and internationally bestselling author ofThe Book of Negroes, which was made into a six part TV mini-series. His previous novels,Some Great ThingandAny Known Blood, became national bestsellers. Hill’s non-fiction work includesBlood: The Stuff of Life, the subject of his 2013 Massey Lectures, andBlack B...
Title:The IllegalFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:400 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.25 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 1.25 inPublished:February 1, 2019Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554683831

ISBN - 13:9781554683833


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Pick I a glad that I saw this book was a Heather's Pick. She had it right with this story. Good !
Date published: 2019-06-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Pick I a glad that I saw this book was a Heather's Pick. She had it right with this story. Good !
Date published: 2019-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it in a weekend Hill creates characters that you feel as though you know within the first few chapters - as Chelsey said - "he is a character master." It takes a few chapters to keep the characters straight, but once you get into the stride of the book you really begin to see how they all fit together. The book is devastating and yet, hopeful.
Date published: 2018-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Great story from this fantastic writer. Language is eloquent, plot is exciting.
Date published: 2018-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Super relevant to today A Fabulous book and especially relevant with the Syrian Crisis. Involves a young man with dreams being an Olympic Marathon runner. After the government in his small African country becomes a ruthless dictatorship (shades of Syria) and his father is murdered for being a journalist he flees to a neighboring country. That country unfortunately has a policy of deporting illegals back to their almost certain death. Has very well developed secondary characters, fascinating subplots, lots of intrigue and suspense. Highly recommend this book I couldn’t put it down.
Date published: 2018-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I read this book as part of Canada Reads a few years back. I haven't read Book of Negroes, so I really didn't have anything to compare it to, but I loved everything about this book. I have recommended it to many readers, some have loved it and some haven't. So I guess this book isn't for everyone, but if you love a detailed character driven story that takes place in a fictitious, future world (but seems all to relevant and real), you will love this book.
Date published: 2018-06-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good then Okay I liked how this book started, but it went downhill from there. I decided to read The Illegal because I read (and enjoyed) The Book of Negroes
Date published: 2018-06-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! Got this book because it was about a runner. Interesting read and inspiring story.
Date published: 2018-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hi From the beloved author of the national bestseller The Book of Negroes comes “a book for our times” (Maclean’s) about family, identity and the strength of the human spirit
Date published: 2018-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read I really enjoyed this book and found that it felt so relevant to issues today. Near the end it seemed to get more fictitious and less believable but I still enjoyed the book through to the end.
Date published: 2018-05-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very insightful this book was filled with situations that can be and probably would eventually be applied to our "MODERN" society.
Date published: 2018-04-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I thought This book has an okay story but it sometimes gets caught up in poor writing. I thought it was strange he created an island instead of making the story more relevant and choosing an actual area to comment on in his book.
Date published: 2018-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful. An easy read. Read this book in 2 days or less during finals, it was that good. Hill has a special talent for writing intense stories about real issues in an enjoyable, quick, easy read. The book is about a marathon, but for me, it was a race to the finish!
Date published: 2018-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Full Speed Ahead! Loved this book from the intriguing characters to the realistic portrayal of what it is like for immigrants to live between borders, not quite existing in their new world but unable to return home. It almost made me want to take up marathon running!
Date published: 2018-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy & Interesting Took out to read throughout the holidays. It was an easy, interesting and entertaining read. It wasn't ground breaking but the themes are definitely universal and relevant in today's global climate.
Date published: 2018-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book Very interesting book. Shows the lives and struggles of people around the world. Was definitely a page turner, really recommend it.
Date published: 2017-12-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Loved it! The story is a little slow and I put it down for a little while, but was drawn back to it. It is captivating in an unusual way, the plot doesn't grab you, but the characters and the way the book is written does.
Date published: 2017-12-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from So-so I absolutely LOVED Lawrence Hill's first book - The Book of Negroes, so when I saw that there was a new book I wanted it right away. The Illegal left me unsatisfied. The references to Tim Hortons while somewhat cute, felt it didn't work in a country called Zantoroland. I truly hate to say that I did not enjoy this book, but unfortunately this was not one of my favourites. That said, if you haven't read The Book of Negroes, please do. It is an amazing read!
Date published: 2017-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good story. Was a good read, very captivating for big chunks of the book.
Date published: 2017-10-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good story Interesting from a running perspective and tied in a bit of mystery and suspense. Not as good as his other books, but a good book.
Date published: 2017-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Illegal will have you running all the way till the last page! To start off this is a great book. It won the title of Canada Reads in 2016 - the driving reason why I wanted to pick this up. The story starts off with Keita Ali, the protagonist in the story dreaming of one day running as fast as the Zantoroland Runners. The story tells of many other characters who's lives are seamlessly and continually interacting with each other for different reasons. This fictional storyline also brings in many real life issues, one being the access to free press, and the issue on immigration which is becoming a major theme in our daily politics into light. Without giving too much away, you could be taken away from your own life and see many qualities that you will be able to relate to in each character. If you want a fall read, read this.
Date published: 2017-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing! When I walked in the store, the book cover grabbed my attention and the purchase was worth it! An amazing story, definitely a must-read.
Date published: 2017-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved I really enjoyed this book.
Date published: 2017-08-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read Excellent read! Another great novel from the author of The Book of Negroes. Lawrence Hill is a fantastic writer. He knows how to keep his reader engaged and wanting to keep reading.
Date published: 2017-08-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Nah Could have been a lot better. Not his best writing
Date published: 2017-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved everything but the ending I adored this book up until the ending. I won't give any spoilers, but I felt the ending did not suit the narrative. Despite that, I would recommend this book because the rest of it is so good.
Date published: 2017-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating & thoughtful! I wish I could give this a 4.5. I loved it right up until the end and the ending just wasn't all I hoped it would be. Great story though, captivating and thoughtful!
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought provoking read This fiction mirrors the current refuge crisis, amidst a delightful story of athletic accomplishment
Date published: 2017-06-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Graet read! Great book, good flow and can't wait to read to read his other books.
Date published: 2017-05-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read Emotional, intense, gripping and inspirational. I truly loved this book.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fantastic Another truly amazing book from Lawrence Hill.
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read. Especially good if you are a runne .
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not quite sure..... A very disappointing ending, to a story that was going along quite well. Not my favourite book by this author.
Date published: 2017-05-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good This book was easy to get into and hard to put down. However, the ending was disappointing as it seemed that everything just perfectly came together in a way that was unrealistic.
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointed I really wanted to like this book . The Book of Negroes was an amazing book and I expected to enjoy this as much and was left wanting so much more from this author. The story failed to grip my interest with the intensity I expected and while I hate to put a book down before finishing it I was tempted. Couldn't wait to get to the end.
Date published: 2017-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Such a wonderful ad inspiring story. I loved it.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring! This is such an exciting, intriguing and mind gripping. As someone who likes to keep fit, I found myself driven to work harder, be better, and strive further. I felt like a detective, watching this story unfold into a fabulous story. Go get it, own it, and read it. Then, if you're nice, share it with a friend.
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but not great Book of Negroes ia a great book, The Illegal doesn't measure up in comparison. I enjoyed the story, but in this time of refugees fleeing for their lives everyday, the story of Keita didn't ring true. Perhaps because Zantoroland is a fictional country. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mostly Enjoyable Was a quick read. I didn't feel the connection to the characters like I usually do when reading a more captivating book. The ending was abrupt and predictable but overall a decent read.
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A disappointment I did not enjoy this book. I disliked it so much that I wouldn't even finish it, and I rarely put a book down before it's finished. The story takes place in two fictional countries, which made it feel like the author was too pressed for time to do any research to use real countries. It felt forced. I do not understand how this won Canada Reads and it really makes me second-guess that whole contest.
Date published: 2017-03-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lawrence Hill Never Disappoints He always leaves me feeling like I am one of the characters interacting with everyone on their journey. Another good read!
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting read Fast read that places you in the storey quickly. Current events given the immigrant crisis makes this a timely read.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Important Hill shines a critical and important light on the issue of refugees in our contemporary society. A great book that packs a punch.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good read may read this again one day.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Low Quality I bought the book because I thought the topic was interesting, but was disappointed. It lacks any character development, and opportunity to understand a character. It seems like the book only gets from point A to B, with absurd plot twists every paragraph and a weak story line. Inappropriate sexual scenes also disrupt any flow of the book, where they are not necessary. On the bright side, the book is printed nicley.
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good read My school had an entire event dedicated to this author/book! Really good
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Read! Couldn't put it down! I am so pleased that this awesome book won Canada Reads 2016!
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome book An enjoyable book. I loved it
Date published: 2017-01-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An alright read I enjoyed Book of Negroes so though I would give this a try. A decent read, but I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't the same caliber as his last novel.
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as good as Book of Negros I enjoyed this book but not as good as book of negros
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Not as good as Boom of Negros but still a fabulous book
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappinted I had high expectations for this book. I found it difficult to get into and I found it did not keep my attention.
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book by Hill Another great book from Canadian author Lawrence Hill!
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Major Pageturner. I could not put down this book. Keita was such an engaging character I just needed to know what would happen next. He's the kind of character you root for. I would love to see this made into a movie, as long as it was executed properly, of course.
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Still reading - so far it's ok. Lawrence Hill at sometime in our lives we can all relate.
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as good as 'Book of Negros' I don't know why I didn't like this book as much as 'Book of Negros', I found it incredibly hard to get into #PlumReview
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable I loved reading The Book Of Negros; I bought this book simply because it is written by the same author. After reading both The Book Of Negros and The Illegal, I can say I am a fan of Lawrence Hill's work. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from okay I loved book of negroes but this was a little disappointing in comparison.
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The writing is off the charts. I felt like I was in the story through the whole book. I was almost sad that it wasn't true, though thankful since some of it is so heart wrenching. It felt true as I was reading it. The story and character development is incredible. The book had me gripped after the first paragraph.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing! This book won "Canada Reads 2016" and after reading the first 15 pages you'll know why. Also Lawrence Hill is a great Canadian author.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from awesome! i have read The Book of Negros from Lawrence Hill as well. The Illegals is by far the most riveting book compared to The Book of Negroes. While you are reading the book, it makes you feel motivated and get into running as well.
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic!~ A must read! Lawrence Hill is a literary genius. The work is well written, well described, and provides a poignant narrative for this day in age.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just OK This books was just ok - I didn't love it or hate it. It was a book club pick, and I probably wouldn't have read it on my own. I had a hard time getting into it, but it did get more interesting near the end.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Characters elevate this run-of-the-mill thriller Lawrence Hill, of The Book of Negroes fame, returns with The Illegal, a relatively by-the-numbers thriller that is somewhat-redeemed by a strong cast of characters. Taking place in 2018, The Illegal opens with aspiring runner Keita Ali spending his days running through the streets, trails, and tracks of his home country, the fictional Zantoroland. Keita's introduction to the reader is idyllic, his character's optimism infectious, and so it comes as a surprise when Keita is forced to run, not for love of sport, but for his life. Zantoroland, one of the world's poorest (fictional) nations, undergoes a dramatic shift in government that precipitates a dramatic disintegration of Keita's family. As he becomes a refugee in the country of Freedom State (also fictional), Keita ends up tangled in a web of corruption that expands the cast exponentially. Despite being a highly recommended book, I've never gotten around to reading "The Book of Negroes." I know, I know. Have mercy. Yet seeing Lawrence Hill flex his muscles with a diverse cast of characters, it is easy to understand how The Book of Negroes became such a hit. The Illegal boasts an extremely diverse cast of POV characters. I met refugees, pimps, cops, politicians, elderly white ladies, and a wunderkind child. However, it is Viola Hill, a former refugee who lived in Freedom State's slums, that steals the show. Viola is a reporter in Freedom State who operates efficiently with her wheelchair as she faces discrimination due to her black skin, her disability, and her sexuality. When she was first introduced, I feared that Hill was trying to create some sort of ultra-minority character just for the sake of diversity. This, however, was not the case. Viola is a certified badass and, aside from Keita, the most compelling character in the novel. My main gripes with the book have to do with the plot itself. Though this opens in what seems like a tale of athletic achievement, the read becomes a bit muddled as Hill squeezes in a politically-conscious thriller that fails to thrill. At the centre of the book is a political conspiracy that involves refugees, illegal deportation, and the lining of the 1%'s pocket. Your mileage may vary on this one, but I rarely felt as if any of the characters were in any serious danger. It becomes fairly obvious when the bulk of the cast has been introduced (about halfway through the novel), that all the pieces were in place for the end of the race. Though it did deviate slightly in the minor details, I had the plot more-or-less figured out and every character's role to play in the finale. This is also disappointing because the novel's loose ends are tied up in a neat bow that eschews the plausibility of the earlier chapters. Also, what's up with the use of fictionalized countries? The story would have been much more compelling set in real countries. There are much worse books for you to read than The Illegal. In fact, the characters are memorable enough that you might be able to look beyond the standard plot. Hill's writing is, for the most part, spot on. On occasion, usually when someone pulls a gun, Hill employs dialogue that is plain clunky. Something along the lines of: "You're staring down the barrel of a semi-automatic luger pistol, popular with the Germans during WWI and WWII." (Note: not an actual quote from the novel, but not far off either) This may be doing something for the firearm-enthusiasts, but it totally took me out of the experience of enjoying the book. This novel is quite topical and I wasn't surprised it came out top dog at Canada Reads 2016; however, the plot is really nothing to write home about. Come for the author's prestige, deal with the lacklustre thriller, and stay to spend time with a compelling cast of characters.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read!!! Read from May 02 to 11, 2016 Excellent read. Best book this year for me. Hill explores many issues and get's you thinking . At first I found it a little difficult as the setting was imaginary, but after a few pages, I soon found that I was captivated by the strong characters, their struggles, suffering but mostly their strength and determination. WOW! Great Read! Should have read it sooner!!! 5 stars *****
Date published: 2016-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great fast pace read! I found that it was hard to put this book down. The chapters were fast paced so I always felt like I could get another chapter in. The author really explains that everyone is battling something whether it be a small or a large issue.
Date published: 2016-07-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A futuristic, fantasy novel that addresses so many issues that affect our society today, The Illegal is definitely worth a read. I absolutely adored The Book of Negroes so I was very excited to get my hands on the The Illegal. This was one of those books that I savored slowly, reading a bit each day and really getting into Keita Ali’s world. I liked this book a lot but for me it didn’t capture me like The Book of Negroes did. What I liked best about The Illegal was Hill’s character development. The novel is told not just from Keita’s point of view but from the view point of a variety of rich and well developed characters, each with their own interest in the politics of Freedom State and Zantoroland. Hill does a fantastic job of letting the reader see the story through the eyes of a multitude of characters: an elderly white woman facing ageism, a 15-year old mixed blood documentary filmmaker, a black paraplegic lesbian reporter, a middle aged businessman who finds himself thrown into the world of politics and, of course, Keita, the protagonist of the story. I think setting was a bit of an issue for me with The Illegal, which is odd because I do write and love both fantasy and dystopian genres. But the setting of the novel in the not so distant future and in the imaginary countries of Freedom State and Zantoroland, weakened my engagement with the book. I felt that it would have had much more impact on me if it had been written in a real world setting. Having said that, the issues that Hill addresses in this novel are important and complex. Stigma and alienation are major motifs in this work. Characters are cast out from society based on age, race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and social position. The issues that Hill addresses in The Illegal are very real in our world today. Without giving any spoilers away, I will say that the conclusion of the novel was disappointing to me. I felt that Hill wrapped things up a bit too quickly and too neatly to satisfy my need for realism. I don’t like to compare an artist’s work because each piece is really different from the others, but after anticipating something equal to A Book of Negroes, I finished The Illegal feeling a bit let down. A futuristic, fantasy novel that addresses so many issues that affect our society today, The Illegal is definitely worth a read.
Date published: 2016-05-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Undeserving I read and enjoyed Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negros. The story had momentum and a narrative arc borne of the historical events that underpinned it. His latest work, The Illegal, was a great disappointment. The prose was leaden, even clumsy in spots. The characters are largely unsympathetic, and the story is neither interesting nor compelling. The creation of fictional island nations in the Indian Ocean is a device borne of laziness -- rather than researching countries and peoples with their complexities and histories, Hill chooses to graft stereotypes onto his fabricated countries and cultures. For good measure, Hill makes ridiculous reference to the global ascendancy of Tim Hortons, a go-to spot for a double-double in corrupt Freedom State, together with gratuitous mentions of Canadian journalists working to expose the sins of the fictional state. The victory of The Illegal in Canada Reads 2016 is an indictment of the program and its format. The discussion of literature should not be made into a Survivor-inspired celebrity spectacle. Don't buy this book because 'it's the one book Canada should read'. It's not. Lawrence Hill can do so much better, and he will again, provided he doesn't believe that the affirmation of a 'Canada Reads' victory is a reflection of the quality of this effort.
Date published: 2016-03-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointment I wanted this book to end as quickly as Keita could run! I don't often write reviews but as I absolutely loved The Book of Negroes I am shocked this was written by the same author. The characters, even the main character, were superficial, uninteresting and predictable. The writing style seemed simple and nondescript. I don't know if it was the way everything seemed to work together in Keita's favour from the time he landed in Freedom State but I found the plot line unrealistic. What would have been a harder road for the majority of refugees, the main character avoided because he was a great runner and had some luck. Which made the story much less interesting in my opinion. Spoiler: The ending was one of the most frustrating and painful chapters I have ever read, it may as well have simply read 'and they all lived happily ever after'
Date published: 2016-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't Put it Down! Lawrence Hill is Totally Amazing … I felt connected and intwined in this Novel. It was a compelling read, and each character will remain with my Soul. This powerful irresistible account of a young man's life as it interweaves with other developed characters, enraptures your interest every moment of the read. You feel the rhythm of his feet pounding the earth as it mimics that of your own heartbeat. Captivated by this intriguing tale leaves you wanting for more. I am gratefully indebted to you, Lawrence Hill, for your imaginative and enthralling account of Keita's world.
Date published: 2015-11-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The illegal This book was totally innocuous. Character deelopment was so poor that by the end of the book I was totally unengaged. This book might appeal to a lower level grade school student. It was that simplistic. I could have cared less about any of characters
Date published: 2015-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masterful! Lawrence Hill is a character master. Whether he's speaking about himself, people he knows, or people who exist entirely in our imaginations, you will feel like you know them; know their innermost joys and fears, their quirks, the rhythm of their hearts. This book is timely (it will definitely give you even more perspective on the international news of late), full of heart and obviously, has unforgettable characters. Basically, I'd like to be friends with Ivernia Beech. You'll see why.
Date published: 2015-09-15

Editorial Reviews

"Hill has outdone himself with his latest novel. . . . His characters are authentic, and each is indispensable. . . . Captivating."