Charlyn 's Reviews > The Unwanteds

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
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Jul 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: adventure, fantasy, fiction, magic, sibling-rivalry, strong-male-character, dystopia, education
Recommended for: Grades 5 and up
Read from July 18 to 21, 2011 , read count: 1

(Review of advanced reader copy) The community of Quill has lived under a tight government rule that enforces uniformity and rigid observance of the laws of the land. Those who show sharp intelligence and follow the rules become Wanteds and attend the University; those who can ably perform skills necessary to keep the population going become Necessaries; those who break the rules or show too much creativity become the Unwanteds. Once each year, all thirteen-year-olds are evaluated and all the Unwanteds are purged from the population and sent for termination.

Alex and Aaron Stowe are thirteen-year-old twins whose parents are Necessaries; however, when the time of the Purge arrives, Aaron becomes a Wanted and his brother Alex becomes an Unwanted. Because of the regimen of desensitization, Alex is the only one who appears affected by his removal. He joins the other Unwanteds, but recognizes only a few of those to whom he is shackled on the bus towards the Death Farm and the Sea of Boiling Oil.

Their arrival there brings a surprise. Once the guards and the bus leave and the gates close behind the Unwanteds, the harsh environment they had seen upon arrival turns into a verdant land named Artimé filled with Unwanteds and a host of magical animals and led by the mage Mr. Today. As wonderful as this surprising area is, it is not without tension, between inhabitants and within the minds of the leaders who know that war will result should Quill ever discover the magical land of Artimé. And that is why the inhabitants are taught to use their creativity as weapons and to prepare for a war that is inevitable.

This book “clicked” with me for two reasons: first, because I am the mother of twins and I know the bond between them is strong, a factor that is crucial in the plot; second, because the story is frighteningly reminiscent of the current educational plan in too many places: focus on only the basics to the detriment of the arts and creativity. The mixture of both dystopian and fantasy elements worked to create a story that is part Harry Potter and part Animal Farm.
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