Format: eGalley (courtesy of GalleyGrab)
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publication Date: 08.30.2011
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.
The Unwanteds turned out to be a fantastic Middle Grade Dystopian novel that gives readers a good idea of what can go wrong with a government. The fantastical elements are fun and I can definitely see them appealing to grade-school readers because of the creativeness in which they are delivered.
I wish a few of the characters had been a bit more developed, but even as they are, I found them interesting to read about. The relationships that develop (or fall apart) between the characters seem real, and something people can relate to. Most notable are the relationships between Lani and the Main character, Alex, and the one between the twins, Alex and Aaron. Both are very realistic, and added great dynamics to the story.
While the premise may sound a bit sketchy (people send their kids to die?!), it quickly becomes a story about doing what is right, and not being afraid to be yourself. The world is creative and unique, and a great place to disappear to for a few hours. There are some parts that were glazed over that I would have liked to read more about, like the characters learning some of the magic, but overall it is a fun read with a well-delivered message.
...you want an uplifting middle grade novel that makes you think, and has fun while doing it.
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
I thought this was interesting. Lisa writes:My kids were twelve and nine when The Unwanteds was born. I'd just heard that art and music classes were being cut from our schools. Both of my kids are artistic, and I was upset. It was almost like the creative kids were getting punished! And then I got that wide-eyed look that writers get when they are thinking:
"Is there a story here?"
I had to consult an expert, so I took my twelve-year-old son aside and said, "What if there was a society where kids get sorted into groups The strong and intelligent ones are Wanted...and the artistic, creative kids are Unwanted, and they have to be punished."
My son thought about it for a minute and said, "I don't think they should just be punished. I think they should be sent to their deaths."
That's all I needed to hear. To their deaths, I say!
-Message from Lisa McMann, ARC