Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

In the land of Quill, the artistic and creative are to be feared - and destroyed. So every year, kids who are thirteen are sorted. Those who are Wanted are sent to university to study. Those who are Unwanted are sent to their deaths.

Alex, and his twin brother Aaron, are thirteen. Aaron is Wanted. Alex is not. But it isn't death that awaits Alex, but Artime, a magical land where the creative people of Quill have gone for years. There, Alex and his friends learn the magic of creativity and how to use it to protect themselves and Artime. But the ties between twins are strong. Alex doesn't like being separated from Aaron, but if Aaron knew the truth of what happened to Alex, everyone in Artime would be at risk. Can Alex fight the compulsion to see his brother again? And if he can't, what will happen to Artime?

One of the latest additions to the dystopian* genre of books, The Unwanteds is a good story. The author does a great job of building the worlds of Quill and Artime. The connection between Alex and Aaron is fascinating as well. This is obviously the first in a series, and there's plenty of story left to tell. I can't speak to the Hunger Games portion of the comparison made by Kirkus Reviews, but the comparison to Harry Potter is fair. Artime is a great magical world. Readers will want to go there themselves and experience the magic of creativity.

4 out of 5 stars
AR level of 5.7

Recommended for: tweens - nine or ten and up, fans of fantasy and/or dystopian stories. [To me, this didn't seem as dark as some of the other dystopian-type stories out there for teens]

Cautions: there is a "war" or a battle that might be upsetting for young or especially sensitive readers.

*dystopian literature starts with the premise that things are as bad as they can be in the world - corruption, poverty, oppression, terror, etc. Usually there is some central figure or government that has set up a system to keep the people oppressed or "in line" while convincing the people that the system is in their best interest or for their own protection.

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