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The Unwanteds Paperback – July 10, 2012
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"Imagination runs wild in this creative adventure."
--#1 "New York Times" bestselling author Brandon Mull
"Reading Lisa McMann's THE UNWANTEDS was like discovering a brilliant,
lost children's classic--except it's never going to be lost, because
readers will never, ever forget the magic they'll experience in
--James A. Owen, author and Illustrator of HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS
The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter in this middle-grade departure from McMann's string of paranormal mysteries with romance for young adults.
On the day of Purge in totalitarian Quill, which is run by the High Priest Justine, 13-year-olds learn if they are deemed Wanted to attend the university, Necessary to tend the land or Unwanted and purged by execution. Without a good-bye from his Wanted identical brother Aaron, Alex Stowe and the other Unwanteds travel to the Death Farm. Instead of death, they meet the lush and magical world of Artime, kept secret from Justine by mage Marcus Today. In a third-person narration characterized by even pacing and whimsical inventions, Alex and his peers learn that their creativity threatened Justine's power. Surrounded by talking blackboards, transporting tubes and such fantastical creatures as an octagator (with the head of an alligator and body of an octopus) for instructors, the teens hone their drawing, music and acting skills while also wielding paintbrushes for invisibility spells and iambic pentameter to stun attackers during Magical Warrior Training, in preparation for battle against the Quillitary. As the youths explore fear, responsibility and free thinking, their spells may be used sooner than they think when Alex's twin bond is tested and rivals vie for Aaron's new position in Justine's government.
Blending elements from two popular genres, this is sure to be a double hit. - "KIRKUS, "April 15, 2011
About the Author
Lisa McMann is the New York Times bestselling author of the middle grade dystopian fantasy series The Unwanteds, the YA paranormal Wake trilogy, and several other books for kids and teens. She lives with her family in the Phoenix area. Check out Lisa's website at LisaMcMann.com, learn more about The Unwanteds Series at UnwantedsSeries.com, and be sure to say hi on Instagram or Twitter (@Lisa_McMann), or Facebook (Facebook.com/McMannFan).
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Likes: Well, I was drawn right in by a society that brands each member of it as either Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. The main character Alex is Unwanted and is being taken from his family and transported to his supposed death. It reminded me of The Giver, only even more cruel and unimaginable. It turns out the Unwanteds are actually taken to a wonderful fantasy land where they are free to indulge in all the behaviors that got them to be unwanted in the first place: creativity and emotions and thinking and being normal. I wish some of the emotional trauma of what it would have been like to be forced to live without love and compassion and friendship would have been better explored, but for the most part the kids seem pretty normal considering their experience. They are taught creative things like art and music and story telling, and taught how to use magic. The magic in this world can weaponize art and words if necessary. There are also numerous awesome magical creatures. There was an interesting plot and the pacing was good... I definitely wanted to know what would happen next. Character wise, I really liked Mr. Today although I didn't always understand all his motivations on not acting to stop the bad guys sooner.
Dislikes: ******Some possible minor SPOILERS below!!!
Some of the horribleness of the bad guys was just completely unbelievable to me. I can't believe that no one rebelled against never thinking, feeling, having emotion, or even dreams. It seems like there would be some sort of underground where parents cared for their children or something. That's a pretty hard emotion to just ignore or stamp out. Especially parents killing their children, that was awful and hard to believe. But ok, it's fine, it's a dystopian society. It was just weird that even the victims of that society did little if anything to protest the horror of it, even when they had nothing to lose. Also, I didn't understand why the leaders of Quill would care if the Unwanteds were killed or left to live in peace. Either way they were out of their society, so why did they want to kill everyone? And why did Justine stop using her magic? And how come the Unwanteds have magic but no one in Quill does? Or did they all have magic and no one told them? And what made Justine so evil, controlling, and vile? Her character has no depth, and neither does Aaron. I can't figure out why Aaron doesn't capitulate and join his brother at the end, after Justine threatens to kill him and after Alex sacrificed everything to save him even knowing he was a tattle-tale and a huge jerk. By his own admission he has nothing left in Quill but instead of changing he's just as malevolent as ever with no apparent motivation. And why was Mr. Today content to allow all the other people in Quill live such a horrible life?
Anyway, good book I'll be willing to read the next one.
This book sparked some interesting conversations about dystopian literature, the skills our society does and does not value, and the idea that you often can't change people--but should still try. The story was rich with details, giving just enough foreshadowing to keep my students happily predicting what might happen next without making it obvious.
The language was challenging--although subject-wise, 4th or 5th graders might be interested, they may need adult support in fully understanding it. Middle schoolers should be fine. My students are all English learners, so we stopped often to discuss vocabulary in context and reread paragraphs that were difficult.
Before I'd even closed the cover, my kids were already asking for the next installment of the series. We've got the next two in the shopping cart already. Keep writing, Lisa McMann!
Most recent customer reviews
I loved the book because it was amazing how Alex and Aaron were brothers then the day of the purge witch is the death day, Alex was put to death because of...Read more