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  • The Illegal

  • Written by: Lawrence Hill
  • Narrated by: Gideon Emery
  • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (1,139 ratings)

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The Illegal

Written by: Lawrence Hill
Narrated by: Gideon Emery
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Publisher's Summary

Keita Ali has nothing: no bank account, no papers, no legal identity. A runner, he has fled home - a brutal dictatorship that produces the world's fastest marathoners - to live as an illegal refugee in a wealthy Western nation, surviving on winnings from local races. But the government is cracking down on illegal immigrants, so Keita - who will be executed if he is deported to his homeland - goes underground.

Now a series of crises call for him to earn quick money: an unscrupulous businessman targets him, a serious health problem erupts, and, most troublingly, officials in Keita's native country kidnap his sister, threatening to execute her unless he pays a ransom. As Keita struggles to resolve these problems, he discovers a troubling political connection between his native and his adoptive countries.

The Illegal is a rich, riveting novel that weaves a complex moral and psychological web.

©2015 Lawrence Hill Creative Services, Inc. (P)2016 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Illegal

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Contrived, implausible, almost unlistenable

This is a dreadful book. It's portrayal of race, gender, and ableism is painful. The plot it torturously contrived. Don't bother. I hear his Book of Negroes is good, but I haven't had the heart to try another after this gawdawful mess.

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10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

4 stars because

lots of promise but unsatisfactory ending. Keith's story is a good one but the end left me feeling unfulfilled

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7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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excellent book

I love this author and he did not disappoint. Sometimes I find heavier books don't work well for audio but I didn't want to stop listening. The point being made about immigration was valid but laid on a bit thick at times. Great characters and interesting story. I didn't want it to end.

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4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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great book, great author

the book of negros is one of my favorite books so I thought I'd enjoy this one too. I was right. great story. well written. a great listen.

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3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

BORING, LOUSY NARRATOR, COULDN'T FINISH

Tried and Tried again to listen, in the end we gave up. Monotone, hard to follow, good for the insomniac looking for a sleeping pill that will work! Wouldn't recommend at all. Took the book based on the ratings, I don't know what others see in it, proves that the world is filled with different kinds of people.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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phenomenal book!

narrator was amazing. I couldn't stop listening and was sad when it was done! Loved it!!

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2 people found this helpful

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Don't bother with this book

Poorly researched. Poorly written. Don't.
I gave it a few chapters; it got worse. Skip this book. Trust me. Couldn't even fall asleep to it.

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1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Unfortunately spoiled

The promise of a young black man running marathons to save his kidnapped sister is thoroughly let down by a glacial pace, an uninteresting political intrigue, and almost a dozen side characters (about half of whom are wildly disinteresting) who constantly push the protagonist out of the spotlight. Despite most of these side-characters having a good chapter apiece to introduce themselves, I still found myself forgetting who one or two of them were. Was this because it took me three weeks to read through? Certainly, it was. But the story was just so boring that picking it up for another chapter became tiresome.

The story has a muddled ending. About half of the characters come some level of emotional or narrative conclusion, but plenty of them don't. The protagonist is almost dropped off the face of the earth with an almost literally "and then he lived happily ever after, and continued running marathons with his girlfriend." The amount of pacing whiplash is staggering.

The most egregious example of the author's pacing issues (and worse, his lack of understanding for what is interesting in a story): At one point we spend almost five minutes describing a woman getting on a plane, getting off the plane, calling a taxi, and driving to a woman's house. The following interview is then summarized in one sentence. Jarring doesn't begin to cover it.

Narrator was very memorable, although the first half of the book was peppered with frequent musical refrains which he half-hearted. I expected the music to be an ongoing theme but was *completely dropped* halfway through and was never once mentioned again. Just bizarre.

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1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Predictable, Tedious and Unrealistic

If this is the same Lawrence Hill that wrote The Book of Negros, then this book is very disappointing. I really wanted this book to end. It’s theme is relevant to current issues, but it was unrealistic and poorly written. I had high expectations of the writer and was very disappointed from start to finish.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Amateur writing exploits racial stereotypes.

If you like two-dimensional stereotypes and plots that resemble paint-by-number, this is the book for you. A runner who's trying to evade the authorities registers for a high-profile race as Roger Bannister. A major character who's a Black lesbian with no legs; the only way to check more boxes is to make her cognitively challenged.
The theme has potential, but it's squandered by lazy, hackneyed writing that exploits the sympathy one feels for the oppressed and disadvantaged.
A real shame!

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1 person found this helpful

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  • nyog
  • 2017-03-27

Needs a good edit to be great

The story here is fine, strong characters, and in a broad way-of-the-world sort of mode. But as with The Book of the Negro, there's a sense of slackness around the narrative drive at points, and a sense that a strong story-edit would help.

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  • J. Rowe
  • 2017-01-26

Entertaining But Predictable

An entertaining story but a little predictable and the ending was too nicely wrapped up. I appreciated the timely social commentary, however. The narrator did a decent job but a few of the character voices were downright creepy.

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  • Cesar Ghisilieri Photography
  • 2016-03-09

great story, questionable narrator

Well written and very good commentary on the perception of refugees and immigration. however, the majority of the characters are black and have backgrounds stemming from Africa yet the narrator is a white British man. It would have made a better impact and a lot more sense if the narrator was black or mixed with a range of different African accents.

Not that I'm offended but that detail took me out of the story many times.

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  • Lynsey
  • 2016-03-02

Disappointing

The book of negroes is one of my favourite books, but this book fell flat for me. The premise of the book was interesting but the story felt under developed, the plot was predictable and the characters were not very believable. I was surprised by how much I disliked this book. In less eloquent terms, this book was a "meh".

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  • Ak47
  • 2016-03-01

Very good read

The narrator was captivating. I loved the way he could switch character and you knew who was talking. Job well done.

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  • Si Jia Li
  • 2016-02-15

enjoyable read

the narrator was every engaging. the story was very well written. the style of writing from different perspective is very refreshing. it was a enjoyable read. thank you!

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  • Dewayne
  • 2017-02-10

The Illegal

Good story, and the narrator is on point with each character. One of my better listens so far.

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  • Schase
  • 2017-02-02

Very good read

I really enjoyed this book. Well written and well read. The story flowed nicely. Didn't dwell too long on one thing but moved on just when you would want it too. Plus I'm a sucker for happy endings!

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  • Timothy
  • 2017-01-22

OMG: SUPERB COMMENTARY

If you are interested in current political and social concerns this book is for you. the author addresses allegorically all the problems facing society in the United States and the Western world - especially as it concerns race relations, immigration status and refugee status. Once I started I could not put it down. Great job by Lawrence Hill.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy G.
  • 2017-01-12

Different -good different

I liked that this is different than most books you'll listen to. It's not just another novel to pass the time. You'll get a glimpse into lives you'll never experience and develop empathy for people you probably don't even think about. The characters are real - flawed, emotional, gullible, complex. And so, so likable. You'll find yourself routing for the underdog.

Besides, there's a paraplegic, black, lesbian character. Kudos to the author for going there.

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