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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN UNTIL IT HAPPENS

QUILL
This book is full of action and things to think about. It can be enjoyed by adults as well as kids. It has several twists and turns that neither young or old will see coming. Furthermore most people are not totally evil or totally good. Grey characters make for a more true to life story, even though it is a fantasy. Some bad people can change to good. There are some great lessons for all to learn. The lessons are shown, not told. This book is preach free.

Narrator is very good and I will continue the series.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A pleasant surprise...

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Giver meets Harry Potter...only better

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!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved This Book!!!

Any additional comments?

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The performance saved this book

I always feel bad saying less than glowing things about a book. But, as someone who appreciates an honest review, here it goes.

Simon Jones gave this book life with his narration and I finished it because of his reading.

The story itself is not terrible, but it is a mashup of a couple of predictable tropes (magical Harry Potter wish fulfillment and dystopian society culling the less-perfect members of society) and they don't seem to go together very well. The main adult character is constantly explaining things so there is no mystery or suspense. The climax is not climactic. 13 year old children are coached in the art of Magical Defense and told that they may decide whether to use fatal or non fatal spells but murder is discussed, and committed, so casually that they may as well have been getting the mail or hanging up the washing for the impact is has on the story. However, I feel that the author did intend a big impact but it was written in too vague and dismissive a way.

A bright spot is the characters themselves. Each was well written and with appropriate dialogue. The bad ones still have depth and a drive to their evil-ness and the good ones are still human.

I will probably listen to the next book (if Simon Jones is the narrator) to see if these things change or improve, but I don't know that I'd recommend it to a friend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not a Bad Little Book

Any additional comments?

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Perhaps, the Undecided?

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.

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Unwanteds

If you could sum up The Unwanteds in three words, what would they be?

Pure, Wondrous, Imagination.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Unwanteds?

The introduction of Artime and of Mr. Today.

Which scene was your favorite?

My favorite scene was when the unwanteds entered Artime for the first time.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A great ride from start to finish.

Any additional comments?

The story is all about the creation of magic through our creativity. Something as ordinary as a paintbrush can be used to paint oneself invisible, or encase someone in a paint shell. The power of Artime comes from the imagination of one man, Marcus Today, and he shares this power with the children he brings to his wonderful land.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good

very good, but confusing at times. suprised they didn't mention alexes friends brother later in the book.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Nowhere near Hunger Games or Harry Potter level!

Dystopian fantasy this novel may be, but fully fleshed it is not.

This book didn't capture my attention as much as other children's fantasy series. I enjoyed the dystopian idea of segregation based on creatives vs pragmatics/scientists, however the novel felt too disjointed. Its a good idea, one that would lead up to picking up books like The Giver, but this book fell way too short for me to give it any more than two stars.

McMann began world building and never truly finished. She starts the novel with the Purge, never building up to it or the reason for it (as the Hunger Games did) and only references Quill in flashbacks/backstory, or through Aaron's POV, which is too infrequent to understand how that society functions and why it's like that. I wanted to learn more, but by the time we get around to the magical school concept in chapter 3, it had switched to a military mindset that did not jive well.

The story is a bit odd, and most of the plot doesn't feel like it sticks. Every time I want to dive deeper, the story ejects me with some concepts or plot device that comes out of nowhere. Even the villains or antagonistic characters are not truly set. None of the character's motives seem real. We don't understand why Justine does what she's doing. I find that nearly every character has an underdeveloped purpose that either continues to change, or is so set without reason to back it up.

I mean, why are Alex and Aaron so alarmingly different? Why does non-creative have to be evil?

I think if McMann had given us a few chapter's in Quill before the Purge to set up some of the characters and showcase the differences between Alex and Aaron, I may have enjoyed the book a bit more, or at least, I would have understood it better.

This book demands a strong suspension of disbelief without anchoring the reader into the world being built. And maybe if we didn't get so many character's POV's I would have enjoyed it more. The book tries to develop too many characters and too many plot structures at once without buildup.

As someone who has a sibling (though for argument's sake we are not twins) I cannot understand why Aaron would hate Alex as much as he does. I don't understand his motives. And when we learn a bit about what he wants, it doesn't feel real. Like a bad movie villain. No set up, no motive, no purpose.

I could never hate my sister enough to want to kill her as Aaron does for Alex. Especially without provocation. McMann writes Aaron's hatred for Alex as a given, something we should accept. Does Aaron solely hate Alex because he is an 'Unwanted'? That is what it appears like in the story. It just doesn't make sense.

I think that my dislike for his character alone is a reason why I do not want to continue reading. I'm not sure that the second novel will further intrigue me to this world.

I may try to read this novel again in the future. Maybe a second read will make me feel better about it, but I doubt it. This book left me wanting more from it that was just not there, and I am not confident that the second book in the series will give me what I'm looking for, a slower pace and better built world that dives deeper into the characters motives and ambitions. Or a better set up for Aaron's character, which just confuses me.

Overall, the novel was a bit darker than I anticipated but most importantly too flat for me to enjoy it to continue. Undeveloped world building. Flat characters with little motivation or attachments which translates to readers that are not invested in them (including the main character, Alex). No suspense for the reader as the third-person omniscient narrator takes out all the surprise. The story is dumbed down and given as a tell rather than show. The lack of description adds to the faults above. And the pacing/novel set up leaves much to be desired. Too many questions and practically no answers. No set up for plot and a rather boring resolution.

I hope that other's may enjoy the book more than I had, but I don't really think that anyone that comes from reading the Hunger Games or Harry Potter is not going to really enjoy this book as the teaser description says.

I wish it had been better. The concept was good, but it fell short on delivery. It just needed more....everything.

If you are looking for novels with something of a similar style I will gladly point you in the direction of these books:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Fareinheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Divergent by Veronica Roth

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  • emma
  • 12-02-13

a great listen for kids

Would you consider the audio edition of The Unwanteds to be better than the print version?

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"

What other book might you compare The Unwanteds to, and why?

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!

Which character – as performed by Simon Jones – was your favourite?

the old man is definitely my favorite!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

when the children are sent away and considered "unwanted", and the lack of reaction from the families

Any additional comments?

a nice story and a good read to keep the kids entertained