Author: Lisa McMann
Release Date: August 30th 2011
Pages: 390 (ARC)
Most Appropriate For Ages: 8+
Where I Got It: For review from publisher
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.
I'm a huge McMann fan, so even though I knew it wasn't fair to compare The Unwanteds (a middle grade fantasy) to her previous works (edgy teen thrillers), I couldn't help it. And while I enjoyed The Unwanteds much more than I normally would a middle grade fantasy, it was probably my least favorite of McMann's books to date.
If you're not a fan of McMann's writing, then have no fear, cause she's changed it up for The Unwanteds. While I was hesitant about it at first, I soon found that it was an incredibly smart decision. Like the best fantasy writers, McMann's writing draws you in and keeps you enchanted throughout the book.
Another thing I loved about this book was the world. I found myself unable to put the book down mostly because I wanted more glimpses of her unique, intriguing world.
The thing that really disappointed me about The Unwanteds was it's characters. Though I didn't dislike any of them (even if Alex could get pretty whiny), I never connected to them like I really wanted to. I hate feeling indifferent about characters, and sadly that seems to be what happened this time.
But even with my problems connecting to the characters, I still read this book quickly and definitely enjoyed it. I'd highly recommend this to young, reluctant readers, especially those who've expressed interest in stories similar to Harry Potter.
Plot: Original and fast-paced.
Writing: Flowed really well!
Ending: Wrapped things up nicely, but can I still hope for a sequel?
Kid friendly? Yes, it's safe for all ages.
Should I read it? If it sounds like you'd enjoy it, give it a go.