Using a similar format that won him awards for Drowned City, Brown presents a graphic hybrid of history and facts—explained in text boxes—with scenes of personal experiences. Beyond numbing data, Brown gives faces and voices to the refugees, as he chronicles various journeys out ... Brown's panels can't—won't?—contain all that the Syrians must endure, as weapons, explosions, fleeing crowds, suffering victims repeatedly break through panel outlines. Yet amid the struggles, Brown won't abandon hope ... In urgently humanizing The Unwanted, Brown's sobering explication and tenacious advocacy prove both necessary and revelatory.
It is a straightforward story filled with maps and statistics, generous with the sorts of definitions American audiences still need after decades of meddling in the Middle East ... his discussion of the war’s origins are pages well spent ... To those familiar with the Syrian war, this may seem simplistic, but without knowing this background, how can a reader understand why Syrians continue to flee? Brown draws simply, laying digital washes over his sketchy charcoal line. At his best, he verges on the stark simplicity that comics can do so well ... Brown tells Syrian stories without names or identifying details. Sometimes this works ... Other times, this anonymity is less successful ... Brown is at his most damning when he describes how the world turned against Syrian refugees.
A book for young adults ... weave[s] together short vignettes (all sourced in its conclusion) in a spare style as a way of presenting a wide collectivity of voices. It may be most successful, though, in its ominous wordless panels—such as those of overloaded boats tipping bodies into the silent, uncaring ocean.
Blocks of text provide context about Syria's civil war, as well as commentary on the international response, with supporting maps and charts seamlessly incorporated into the story. The loose linework reflects the chaos, and the full-color art depicts a muted sepia and blue gray palette, with touches of brighter hues for effect. Violence is freely but not gratuitously shown, and death is depicted only rarely ... This accessible and heartbreaking primer, with its stirring simplicity and a note of hope, should be required reading for all teens hoping to be empathetic and engaged world citizens.
An unflinching look at the Syrian refugee crisis ... Brown’s illustrations are equally stark and evocative. Faces lined with anguish stand in sharp relief against barren landscapes and the impassive stares of guards and politicians. Brown manages to craft an impressive portrayal that is informative but not impersonal, allowing room for both facts and emotion, despair and hope. Brown sheds light on an ongoing humanitarian crisis with worldwide repercussions, but this is no elegy; rather, it’s a call for action and acknowledgment the world over.
Brown’s poignant testament...damningly chronicles the slowly building resentment among host communities and the mounting legal restrictions on the asylum-seeking populations. Most importantly, by alternating sheer tragic moments (rockets falling, the capsizing of a boat, drownings, rejection) and glimpses of joy (a child’s successful resettlement, a compassionate neighbor, family reunions), he succeeds in offering a window into the humanity of displaced groups—their resilience and tenacity but also their inspiring, hopeful nature. The pen-and-ink digitally colored art has a loose, informal style that vividly expresses the intense emotions contained in the book. A moving chronicle of a real humanitarian tragedy.
The author of Drowned City again humanizes a story that can seem remote and incomprehensible ... In loosely drawn panels, Brown captures the migrants as they march over land or huddle in boats, zeroing in on their expressions of fear and exhaustion as he documents the way war’s effects spread far beyond the battlefield.