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Publisher's Note:  

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths

Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret--behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.

In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation.

But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.



The Unwanteds

by Lisa McMann

Review Date:
02/07/2014

Recommended Age:
12+

Overall Rating:
***1/2

Profanity / Language Rating:

Violence / Gore Rating:
***

Sex / Nudity Rating:
*

Overall Review:  

The description on the cover of the dystopian novel The Unwanteds that reads: "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter," given by Kirkus Reviews, is an accurate one.  Author Lisa McMann takes us to the dystopian society of Quill, where those with brains and brawn are fostered and given preference and those with creativity and curiosity are discouraged and even "eliminated." For the past 50 years Quill has systematically been eliminating any 13-year-old that has shown any signs of creativity--whether through drawing, singing, dancing or even storytelling and boasting--in a yearly purge. In turn, those that are subservient and obedient are promoted to "wanted" status and given preferential treatment.  In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Alex, Lani, Megan and Samheed, all of whom have been purged and think they are going to their deaths.

 

The Unwanteds is an interesting take on the dystopian genre. Bringing in the element of magic makes it more interesting and a little less gruesome and dark when compared to other dystopian novels.  McMann does a wonderful job creating wonderful visions of her dystopian society as well as the magical world of Artime, which contrast one another so vividly. She further enhances this contrast with one of the main characters being an identical twin to one who happened to be a "Wanted," which is the elite of Quill. This element of the story helps the reader to see both ways of life in these protected societies. Imagination and creativity not only prevail, but abound in this book as well.


The Unwanteds is the first in a three-volume (so far) series, and Mann has set it up nicely for future novels. Her take on a dystopian society was a nice change of pace and it will be interesting to see how she builds on that as well as how she grows as a writer. 


Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  None

 

Violence/Gore:  Several (11) accounts of verbal threats and ideas of revenge; 3 accounts of death; battle scene between magical and non-magical world with use of guns and knives on one side and magical weapons on the other which results in injuries described in a non-gory way.

 

Sex/Nudity:  Hand holding and one brief kiss.



Mature Subject Matter:  

Societal tradition of "eliminating" children; Revenge; Parental indifference/abandonment.



Alcohol / Drug Use:  

None



Reviewed By Sally
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