7.13.2011

THE UNWANTEDS Review -- Lisa McMann

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.
May I just say how clever the premise for this book is? Everyone with a single ounce of creativity is Unwanted and "executed," and everyone who's athletic or intelligent stay and are deemed Wanted? That is single-handedly the most clever premise I've read in a long time. That's true fantasy, a whole world spawned from just a single question. McMann doesn't fall flat of what I expected from this wonderful idea. In fact, I didn't even know what this was going to be about until I read the Introduction. I was engrossed!

And, also, may I say how big and how unexpected of a switch-up this is from McMann's normal stuff (paranormal romance! I know),? I feel like this is a completely different author here, because her paranormal books are written in such short, edgy, gripping sentences and this book is written in vivid, languid, fluid prose that just jumps off the page and into your head. I can't say which I like better, because in her paranormal stuff, you're just constantly flipping pages and you're haunted by the story, but in this middle-grade fantasy novel, you're just completely entranced by the beautiful language and you can't stop reading.

No matter what, I officially present McMann the Most Versatile Author Award!

It's official.

(I just made that! On a complete whim.) Seriously, though. How can you not agree with me? Freakin' polar opposites here, and she can do 'em both. That takes some serious writing mojo.

This has to be the most creative book I've ever read. McMann doesn't fall short of my expectations, which I appreciate to the fullest extent. The ending of this book is totally open-ended, so you really have no idea of knowing whether or not this will be a series. Honestly, I'd just prefer this to be a stand-alone, but I'm open to another book or three of THE UNWANTEDS.

Gripping and languid, THE UNWANTEDS is McMann's most creative book yet, with a premise to "die" for; I was quickly engrossed into Alex's world of misery and new hope, and when I reached the end I was deeply saddened -- saddened, that is, by the fact that I'm left hanging with no sequel within reach. I strongly recommend you pick this up!

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