Title: The Unwanteds (Book 1 in The Unwanteds)
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Aladdin – Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories. The strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the sensitive, artistic Unwanteds are sent to their death. On the day of the Purge, twins Alex and Aaron Stowe await their fate. While Aaron is hopeful of becoming a Wanted, Alex knows his own chances are slim. He’s been caught drawing with a stick in the dirt – and in the stark gray land of Quill, being creative is a death sentence.
But when Alex and the other Unwanteds arrrive at the Death Farm, they discover an eccentric magician named Mr. Today and his hidden world that exists to save the condemned children. Artimé is a colorful place of talking statues, uncommon creatures, and artistic magic, where creativity is a gift … and a weapon.
I was about to start this review with the words “this book,” like I do with so many other of my reviews, when I realized how repetetive and common that is to my blog, while this book? It was unlike any other dystopian novel I’ve read. The idea of killing off creativity is atrocious, and at such a young age! Even though, I suppose, the idea of a society in a dystopian is grotesque anyway, this story in particular really made me realize the true horror of it. Whether it was the very strong voices of the characters, the wording of the story that allowed me to really experience the world of Quill and Artimé, or the simple fact that this book was written for MG readers, I don’t know. But everything pulled me in and kept my attention riveted to the pages.
I loved the characters, especially. Alex was extremely relatable, and his voice through McMann’s words made my heart ache. I think I cried for four chapters straight, just because I wanted him to succeed so badly, and I just knew that he was special. He was also a very admirable person. While he endured the torture and bullying and pranks, he never gave up, even when he came awfully close. And when he finally succeeded? While I would have stewed and been angry and plotted vengeance, he forgave his friends and playfully returned the favor with a prank of his own, no hard feelings. And other than the simply stupidity and carelessness of his friends during those couple of chapters, I grew to love them as well.
Possibly my favorite scene was when Samheed, Alex, and Lani are asked to demonstrate their skills, and Alex turns invisible on Lani. I certainly enjoyed her confusion – serves her right, for once!
The entire thing was very enjoyable, with several surprises in store, both happy and sad. I can’t wait for the sequel, Island of Silence, to see what adventures await everyone in Quill!