Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.
I have owned this book for such a significant amount of time that it’s embarrassing I haven’t read it yet. I’m not certain, but I think the whole series is already completed. Sometimes books I know I’ll enjoy just get buried by the masses. Between the ARC’s, books sent by publishing companies, and the library books with due dates, this sometimes happens. I’m so glad I included this book in my 2014 reading challenge because who knows when I would have read it otherwise.  And I adored it.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. With a blurb that reads, “The Hunger Games Meets Harry Potter,” I was a little afraid. No book can really be compared to either of those series, and I’m rather tired of everything being compared to them (granted, this is from 2011 so maybe books didn’t have these blurbs yet).
I ended up reading the whole book in one day. I loved it. I loved the story. I loved the flawed characters. I loved the magic. I loved the dystopian elements. And I loved the message. The idea that children would be killed for being creative was at first shocking, and then sadly reminiscent of a lot of today’s local news stories where schools continue to get rid of art, drama clubs, school libraries, extra-curriuclars that are not athletic, etc. And while comparing the disintegration of our school system to the act of murdering children who ever draw a sing picture is a bit harsh, I can’t help but think this author had this on her mind.
McMann created a world where not only is creativity and art not as important as science and strength, but she created a world that eliminated creativity completely. And then when you realize what really happens to the unwanteds and it becomes clear that a war is looming, I never found myself questioning who would win. For me, creativity always wins.
This book also just threw together some of my all time favorite tropes: twins, alternate worlds, and magic lessons! I liked that the main character wasn’t the typical hero too. He was a bit na├»ve, ignorant, and childish. I liked seeing him grow. I also liked that he never quite looses his childishness, even after so much happens.
There’s still so much I want to know. I want to know more about the adults in this world. Do none of the parents really ever think of the unwanteds? Also, what’s the story behind all the mythological characters? What’s the rest of the world like? And how did the people in charge get to be where they are? There’s more I want to know about the bad twin and about the changes being made. I will definitely need to get my hands on book 2. I give this one a 9/10.

1 comment:

  1. lol, Nori, don't feel bad about not getting to things forever! I've had things on my shelf for A LOT longer than three years because I have a book hoarding problem :p