manda's Reviews > The Unwanteds

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
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's review
Dec 26, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: coulda-been-better, children, fantasy
Read from December 25 to 26, 2011

I think what really ruins this book for me is my age. If you want to enjoy The Unwanteds, you'd have to look at it from a middle-grade perspective. And so if you can enjoy reading something without overly analyzing things, if you're not an inherent skeptic, if you can momentarily disregard things like logic and human nature and politics and other such worldly antics, then I have no doubt you will enjoy this book.

The Unwanteds is the story of a group of people, known to their secluded nation-home by the titular name, whose only crime is to have Creativity. And because Creativity is the founding stone of Disobedience, they are sentenced to their deaths.

Every year, a group of Unwanteds is plucked from amongst the nation's children, and they are sent to the Great Lake of Boiling Oil, where they are to be exterminated.

But instead of plunging into a most excrutiating death indeed, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds find themselves entering a haven of plants and animals, such as the likes Quill has never seen before, and even better: magic.

There is a touch of Harry Potter in here; and by this I mean a school of sorts for magic, an old man who reminds me strikingly of Dumbledore, but thankfully the similarities end there.
I did enjoy McMann's creativity even though it took me a while to get used to it. Her magical blackboards, for instance, made me think of a giant iPhone with a more intelligent version of Siri hooked up.

But because I'm a soursop, here are the things I didn't enjoy.

The Romance
...well, what little of it there was. I'm not complaining that there wasn't enough of it; what bothered me was that it just jumped out at you. One moment Alex is ignoring Lani, the next he's stealing kisses. It was kind of cute, but just rather too unexpected, so meh.

The Characterization
Too black-and-white. Read a psychology book.

The Logic
My, my do I have huge issues with this.
"But you know yourself that you can protect our world without a war at all! You could wipe out the entire land of Quill and we could be safe forever, if you just choose to stop it."

First of all, that is an actual legitimate statement. Mr. Today, at the end of the day, simply needed to utter a sentence, and the entire freaking army of Quill were as good as landlocked fish.

Second, voicing my (or readers) concerns and then answering them in this method just makes it seem like sloppy writing. I personally clump these sort of conversations together under the infodumping category. Only worse.

But getting on with it. Here is Mr. Today's response:
"Each person here must have something at stake in order to take ownership of our land. If our people have nothing to sacrifice, nothing to protect, what will happen to Artimé when I am gone?"

Again, first of all, Artimé is their home, now. It's their haven. They were rescued from death and learnt awesome new things, met awesome new people, and have an awesome new world. I think that's pretty much everything to sacrifice, and they know it. Otherwise they'd have exposed Artimé to Quill a long, loooong time ago.

Second of all, most of them are fourteen years old. That's right, send them to war anyway.

I won't go into any more detail. Suffice to say, it is an enjoyable read if you don't put much thought into it. It has some pretty fresh ideas, enjoyable characters, and was a quick read. Sometimes I wish I could shake myself silly and just read a goddamn book and enjoy it.
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04/22 marked as: read

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