THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann: Strong Recommendation for a Middle School Series

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

I’ve always been fascinated by the tween and teen dystopia novels.  Recently, of course, there have been The Hunger Games and Divergence. But before that, there was The Tripod Trilogy by John Christoper, the Matched series by Ally Condie, The Giver by Lois Lowrie, and more.  There’s something riveting about peering into these dysfunctional and frightening universes, and seeing the strengths of the heroes who fight to create better worlds.

My nieces Hazel and Charlotte are super-readers, and when they came to Portland to visit last month, they recommended reading The Unwanteds, which tells the tale of a world where 13-year-olds are sorted into Wanted, Necessary (who both get to stay in the Land of Quill), and for those unlucky ones deemed Unwanted, there is Elimination.  And the Unwanted are the ones who show any spark of originality or creativity.  Alex and Aaron are twins who face this uncertain future together, though both know the likely results.  It’s hard for Alex to leave his twin behind, but Aaron immediately sets his heart to forgetting his brother, as the people of Quill expect him to.  But instead of the “Death Farm” he expects, Alex discovers the magical and wonderful world of  Artimé, where he and his fellow Unwanteds nurture their creativity and learn to use magic to enhance their talents. The twins have a hand in bringing the two worlds together in a strange, terrifying, and wondrous way–and with surprising results.  The magic reminds me of Harry Potter at Hogwarts, and the world of Quill a bit of The Hunger Games.  I’ve only read the first, but look forward to the whole series (seven books so far).

I’ve just recommended the series to Molly and Jacob and I’m awaiting their reviews.  We’ll keep you posted!

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