Review: The Unwanteds

Review: The UnwantedsThe Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Series: Unwanteds #1
Published by Aladdin on August 30, 2011
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Fantasy
Pages: 390
Format: Hardcover
Source: Won

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.

Anyone who knows me well probably knows that I’m not a big fan of Lisa McMann. All of her prior books sounded good, but then were utter disappointments, largely because of the rather uninspired writing. I didn’t even want to read this one, but felt compelled to because of its dystopian nature. Well, I am happy to report that McMann can actually write complex sentences. Hurrah! Now I am curious why she writes real sentences for a middle grade book, but not for young adult ones. Does she think teens will refuse to read anything that puts a subject and a verb in the same place?

Ranting over. This was a really fun read, very much unlike any of her previous books, both in style and tone. There are some dark aspects, but, for the most part, this is a story of a magical world that any kid would love to live in. I mean who doesn’t want to go to a school where your room is made for you and full of stuff you love, where you can travel anywhere by tube, where you can eat whenever you want, where you take classes only in the arts and where you get to learn magic spells? I would still prefer Hogwarts, but Artimé is pretty cool.

My favorite character by far was Lani. She walks everywhere with her nose stuck in a book…what’s not to like? Most of the others I didn’t particularly bond with, but they were interesting. Actually, the one I disliked the most was Marcus Today, founder of Artimé. The problem is just that he kind of creeped me out, although I’m not really sure why. I think he reminds me a little bit of Willy Wonka that way.

The dystopian elements are pretty minimal, mostly just in the first chapter or two, so if that’s what you want, you probably be disappointed. If you’re looking for a fun story that glorifies the arts or you just love stories of magic, give this one a try, even if, like me, you were unimpressed by McMann’s previous efforts.


2 responses to “Review: The Unwanteds”

  1. Nori says:

    Wow! I was looking forward to this before. But now, I’m super looking forward to it! High praise from you!

  2. Heather says:

    I like McMann’s other series, but the first paragraph of your review made me laugh 🙂 haha

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