The New York Times best-selling author of the Wake trilogy makes her middle-grade dystopian fantasy debut!
When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill: Each year all the 13-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the army. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination.
It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate - until he discovers that instead of a “death farm”, what awaits him is a magical place called Artime. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.
But it’s a rare, unique occurrence for twins to be divided 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.
©2011 LIsa McMann (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
If this book is supposed to be Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games as some commentators suggest, then it never quite succeeds at being either. Lisa McMann???s the Unwanteds is a bazaar blend of fantasy and dystopian writing. The book opens with the Purge, a separation of thirteen-year-olds into wanteds, necessaries, and unwanteds. And yes, it is entirely reminiscent of the reaping that begins The Hunger Games. As Alex leaves behind his twin Aaron, who has been designated a Wanted, he boards an ancient bus with the other Unwanteds to be transported to the Death Camp and thrown into a lake of burning oil. But instead of being cast into the lake, the group of Unwanteds watch a large flying tortoise descend from the sky, and their lives change.
The land of Artime, the magical world, exists parallel to Quill, the dystopian world, and is protected and maintained by Marcus Today, a Dumbledore-like character who has his own office with a magical window on the land of Quill. Alex and his friends spend their time learning magic, which for each is an extension of their natural, creative abilities.
I would never call Alex a new harry Potter, and there???s little besides the opening sequence to suggest this book is anything like The Hunger Games. With the suppression of emotion in Quill, the book is if anything more like Lois Lowry???s The Giver, another dystopian and rather problematic novel for young adults. In The Unwanteds, kids learn defensive magic???those magical talents standing for creativity???while the emotionally suppressed of Quill invade the magical land of artime. Just like The Giver, The Unwanteds moves from dystopia to allegory: the freedom of creativity set against the negativity and oppression of emotional suppression.
The upshot???Ms. McMann, don???t mix your genres, and don???t try creating another Dumbledore, who, by the way, is still very much alive in the hearts of harry Potter fans. Three stars for this one. However, five stars for the audio version of this rather odd and mediocre book. Simon Jones, the fabulous reader of the Bartimaeus series, makes this book worth listening to.
mom of 2 in az
The characters were well thought out, and the dialogue engaging. The main theme of the story certainly was serious, but the book didn't have any graphic content that I wouldn't allow a 4th grader or up to hear. I was pleasantly surprised because I don't usually enjoy futuristic, fantastical stories.
This was a great book! I didn't want it to end! The performance was great, the story was colorful and creative and evoked a lot of thought and emotion. Heavy subject handled beautifully.
As an adult, I still enjoy many of the young adult books and decided to give this one a try. It turned out to be a little young and simplistic for my taste, but I'm sure children will love it. McMann does a good job at engaging the reader with likeable characters and an appealing story. The idea of turning art into magic was interesting and innovating, if a little simplistic at times, but I'm sure that wouldn't faze the target audience. All in all she provided some pretty good twists in her story and it was well narrated by Simon Jones. If you're looking for something light or searching for your kids, this is a good one.
I hold a BA in History from York University of Toronto; a 3yr Diploma in Computer Networking from Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario. I have been "reading" audio books sinces the late 80s and a member of Audible back to 2004. What a really like is a good long story preferable over 30 hours. :)
The story opens as a disutopia similar to that of the Giver and a bit darker then Hunger Games, luckily the author quickly moves the reader pass this and on to a much brighter world. In many ways this is a brighter and happier story then the title implies. The childern are well treated and enter into a much better world. The only thing missing is book 2!
"a great listen for kids"
kept the kids rivited in the car, didn't hear a peep on a long motorway drive. in fact, they were desperate to get moving again to hear more! I'd call this a "page turner"
it would appeal to the Harry potter type audience, eg boy discoveres a magic world he never new existed - and turns out to be quite special!
the old man is definitely my favorite!
when the children are sent away and considered "unwanted", and the lack of reaction from the families
a nice story and a good read to keep the kids entertained
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