Hardcover, 390 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Aladdin
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.
It's not especially often that I review Middle-grade books on this blog, but every once in a while a Middle-grade title comes along that I HAVE to get my hands on.
The Unwanteds was one of those titles.
I had been wanting to read this book ever since I attended Lisa McMann's event for her Cryer's Cross tour last winter, during which she'd sat on the stage and pulled out her advance copy of this book, and had read us two chapters, after the first of which she graciously gave us the choice between hearing the following chapter, which was from another character's point of view, or the chapter after that, where we followed our original hero (Alex) after he'd been sentanced to death for being "unwanted".
Our choice had been unanimous. We had to hear what happened to Alex...but of course, that second chapter ended on a cliffhanger (and I had to force myself to remain in my seat as all I could think of was rushing the stage and snagging the book right out of Lisa McMann's hands...which probably wouldn't have gone over too well, but I digress) and I've been waiting to hear the rest of the story ever since.
The wait...was worth it.
This is a tale that is made up of both a (creeeeeepy) dystopian society, and a world full of beautiful, art-filled magic. The characters were just so real...some of them were talented and charming, others were annoying brats. They were just kids that found themselves in a horrible situation, and were trying to figure out what to make of it when it turned out to be completely different than they'd anticipated.
I don't want to give anything away, but the stark differences between the two worlds in this story--and the twins, Alex and Aaron--just blew me away. This story was full of magic and wonder and horror and terror. The history the author has created is complex and has so many differnt points of views, and I loved every minute of it.
I love the world McMann has created in this story, and I can't wait for more in this series.
Great middle-grade read!