Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Series: The Unwantds, book one
Source: ARC from BEA, purchased copy
About the Book: 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.My Thoughts: I absolutely adored Lisa McMann's Wake trilogy but it can be a bit mature for some of my middle schoolers. I was so pleased to find out the she had a middle grade series in the works! I just knew it would be a hit with my students and I was so right! They have nothing but good things to say about it. I even had a student come in and ask for it before we had it! I never have students asking for books before I book talk them! Last week I got about two sentences in to describing it to one of my reluctant readers before she stopped me and said, "Stop right there. I'm sold!" (Note to self: "Sent to their deaths" works every time!) This is one book that I totally agree with them on! I loved it.
Lisa McMann does a wonderful job of describing the ordeal that Alex and the other unwanteds go through. Alex's acceptance of his fate at the purge is just heartbreaking. Even though the reader knows he is not actually being sent to his death it still gets to you. He tries so hard to be strong! McMann also captures the confusion and mix of feelings that the unwanteds feel when they arrive at Artime. Their lives are turned completely upside down. They are separated from their families and in a world that looks nothing like the one they left. The very things that got them sentenced to death are encouraged. Add to that a host of creatures they've never seen before and an eccentric man running the show and you can see why the teens might have a hard time adjusting!
One of the other things I really appreciated was the depiction of the different characters. Some times "the good guys" made me mad. Some times my heart went out to "the bad guys." I liked that it wasn't cut and dry. The characters struggled with choosing between what the wanted to do and what they knew they should do. They made mistakes and had to face the consequences. Everything was not perfect right away. This adds so much to the story.
There is so much awesome contained in this one book! It wraps up nicely while leaving the reader begging for book two! I cannot wait to see where this series goes. Lisa McMann FTW!!
Random Things I Loved:
*Chapter titles... love, love, love, love, love
*Multiple points of view
*All the different "spells" the unwanteds learn/create
*Alex's ability to hope
*The way McMann makes me care about all the characters... even the ones I don't want to!
*"Quill prevails when the strong survive."