Customer Reviews for

The Unwanteds (Unwanteds Series #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

44 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo

Gold Star Award Winner! The setting is the future in a place called Quill. Life there is not easy, especially if it is decided that you are an Unwanted. At the age of thirteen, it is determined that each citizen is in one of the following groups - Wanteds, Necessaries, ...
Gold Star Award Winner! The setting is the future in a place called Quill. Life there is not easy, especially if it is decided that you are an Unwanted. At the age of thirteen, it is determined that each citizen is in one of the following groups - Wanteds, Necessaries, or Unwanteds. The Wanteds are a privileged group given the opportunity for higher education and positions of power in society. The Necessaries are just that; they provide the necessary services required in daily life. The Unwanteds are sent to the Death Farm and exterminated. Alex and Aaron are identical twins turning thirteen. They already know their fates. Aaron will stay in Quill and become part of the Quillitary and most likely move up the ranks to become a powerful leader. As a young boy, Alex showed creative tendencies when he was caught drawing in the dirt with a chicken bone. Creativity is not valued in Quill, which means all those with artistic talents are classified as Unwanteds. The departure of the Unwanteds creates barely a ripple in the lives of those left behind in Quill. Alex's parents and brother almost seem annoyed during the brief farewell required when Alex leaves for the Death Farm. He joins the others headed toward their uncertain end, with only a hope that death will come quickly and painlessly. Alex and the others soon find that there is nothing to fear. Upon their arrival, they are welcomed by a mysterious magician named Mr. Today and countless other magical creatures. The world they have entered is called Artime, and it is filled with color and beauty beyond their wildest dreams. It is immediately obvious that life in Artime is all about living and enjoying the creative pursuits they were denied in Quill. After a brief introduction and orientation about the rules and requirements of Artime, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds begin to explore this amazing world. In addition to learning about art, music, and theater, they develop their own magical talents. They are free to roam and appreciate all Artime has to offer, but as Alex settles in he learns there is a definite separation between Quill and Artime. No one in Quill must know about the Unwanteds who escaped extermination. Contact with family and friends would threaten this wonderful world's very survival. Author Lisa McMann takes readers on an adventure very different than that in her previous novels. Her creation of these two extremely different worlds creates a sharp contrast that had this reader captivated. The underdog status of the Unwanteds pulled me into the story and had me cheering for them right up through the last page. If you are a fan of HARRY POTTER, THE HUNGER GAMES, or just enjoy fast-paced adventure and fantasy, you'll want to get your hands on this one.

posted by TeensReadToo on August 7, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

19 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

Entertaining (Book Twirps review)

In the land of Quill, any child who shows any type of artistic talent is considered a threat to the government. To be artistic shows a tendency to be a free-thinker, which, in turn, could cause a problem for the government. At the age of thirteen all children are catego...
In the land of Quill, any child who shows any type of artistic talent is considered a threat to the government. To be artistic shows a tendency to be a free-thinker, which, in turn, could cause a problem for the government. At the age of thirteen all children are categorized as wanted, necessary or unwanted. Thirteen-year-old Alex has known for months that when the time comes, he will be listed as unwanted and be sentenced to death. His twin brother, Aaron, however, is selected as a wanted and will be sent to university to study and eventually serve on the cities government. When Alex and the other unwanteds are shipped off to the death farm, they are surprised to find that something special awaits them. A secret, magical land called Artime is hidden behind the gates of Quill, hidden by magic. No one in the land of Quill knows about Artime, and the government assumes the children have all been put to death when in fact they are being trained in the arts, allowed to think freely and learning to use magic.

Though Alex is ecstatic to have found a place where he can be himself, he can't help but miss his twin brother, and wonders if somehow he can bring Aaron to join him in Artime. What Alex doesn't realize is that Aaron is happy with his new position and strives to one day become the ruler of Quill. When the existence of Artime is threatened, the members must fight to keep their beloved freedom, and much to Alex's disappointment, this fight will pit him against his twin brother.

This book is marketed as a cross between Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. While I'm sure this is great for marketing, and will entice curious readers, I'm afraid these readers may be disappointed. While Ms. McCann's book is enjoyable and certainly has its merits, it is neither of the before mentioned books. The only similarity it has to The Hunger Games is the dystopian setting of Quill. While the magical land of Artime, and the magic the children learn in school could be compared to the magic of the Harry Potter series, McCann's world is not nearly as immersive. I read this book expecting something more because of the blurb on the cover. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot to be enjoyed within the pages of The Unwanteds. McCann's Artime is rife with potential. The talking blackboards, the transportation tubes and the "artsy" magic the children learn are all enjoyable. I think I may have enjoyed it more had I not had such high expectations. I also felt the book was rushed. There is a lot happening in the book, and I would have liked more in the way of the magic lessons, and I would have liked the mystery to have been a little deeper. I felt a lot of this was glazed over to reach the battle at the end. All in all the book is enjoyable, and it will definitely appeal to the targeted audience provided they are not die-hard Harry Potter fans.

(Review based on an advanced reviewer's copy courtesy of the publisher via Simon & Schuster's GalleyGrab)

posted by OtotheD on August 7, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2011

    Entertaining (Book Twirps review)

    In the land of Quill, any child who shows any type of artistic talent is considered a threat to the government. To be artistic shows a tendency to be a free-thinker, which, in turn, could cause a problem for the government. At the age of thirteen all children are categorized as wanted, necessary or unwanted. Thirteen-year-old Alex has known for months that when the time comes, he will be listed as unwanted and be sentenced to death. His twin brother, Aaron, however, is selected as a wanted and will be sent to university to study and eventually serve on the cities government. When Alex and the other unwanteds are shipped off to the death farm, they are surprised to find that something special awaits them. A secret, magical land called Artime is hidden behind the gates of Quill, hidden by magic. No one in the land of Quill knows about Artime, and the government assumes the children have all been put to death when in fact they are being trained in the arts, allowed to think freely and learning to use magic.

    Though Alex is ecstatic to have found a place where he can be himself, he can't help but miss his twin brother, and wonders if somehow he can bring Aaron to join him in Artime. What Alex doesn't realize is that Aaron is happy with his new position and strives to one day become the ruler of Quill. When the existence of Artime is threatened, the members must fight to keep their beloved freedom, and much to Alex's disappointment, this fight will pit him against his twin brother.

    This book is marketed as a cross between Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. While I'm sure this is great for marketing, and will entice curious readers, I'm afraid these readers may be disappointed. While Ms. McCann's book is enjoyable and certainly has its merits, it is neither of the before mentioned books. The only similarity it has to The Hunger Games is the dystopian setting of Quill. While the magical land of Artime, and the magic the children learn in school could be compared to the magic of the Harry Potter series, McCann's world is not nearly as immersive. I read this book expecting something more because of the blurb on the cover. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot to be enjoyed within the pages of The Unwanteds. McCann's Artime is rife with potential. The talking blackboards, the transportation tubes and the "artsy" magic the children learn are all enjoyable. I think I may have enjoyed it more had I not had such high expectations. I also felt the book was rushed. There is a lot happening in the book, and I would have liked more in the way of the magic lessons, and I would have liked the mystery to have been a little deeper. I felt a lot of this was glazed over to reach the battle at the end. All in all the book is enjoyable, and it will definitely appeal to the targeted audience provided they are not die-hard Harry Potter fans.

    (Review based on an advanced reviewer's copy courtesy of the publisher via Simon & Schuster's GalleyGrab)

    19 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    review courtesy of One Book At A Time

    I was excited to read this. I've enjoyed Lisa McMann's other books. Plus, this seemed to fit into a genre that I enjoy...middle grade fantasy. I think it's a worthy ready for those who enjoy the category (adults and kids alike). But, I'm not sure it has the power to become the next big thing.

    I liked Alex at first, but I had a hard time identify with his need to contact his twin. I got that they were identical twins. And I know that twins have a special bond. But, it bothered me that the separation seemed to bother Alex more than it bothered Aaron. I was strange to watch Alex convince himself that Aaron really wanted and needed to be with him. He completely disregarded what it might do to the people that inhabited Artime.

    I did think the idea of Artime was fascinating, but oddly explained. The castle (mansion?) itself seemed really intriguing. But, the descriptions of it seemed unimportant. I loved the idea of taking blackboards, tubes to get you to certain parts of the castle, and instructions tailored to your strong suits. But, the story focuses some much on Alex and his desire to contact Aaron. I feel like so much more could have been done with this story.

    So for me this wasn't the next things for middle grade fantasy lovers. I'll keep looking. Although, I'm sure I will read the next one if give then chance. I don't feel the story is completely done yet.

    14 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    The Critic

    This book had a great plot line and was a good idea. The only thing that I found wrong with it is something that will only bother you if you are picky, like me. The thing is, I couldn't really tell who the hero was supposed to be. The author had secondary characters in the book do nothing of importance until the very end, in that "big battle" that seems to be in all childrens' fantasy books. The writing was average, and, all in all, I do not think this book will be the next big thing. It will only be remembered by its readers for the unique story line and nothing else.

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hobbitsies Reviews: Impressive, creative storyline

    I've never read anything else by Lisa McMann (although I know I really should), so what really attracted me to The Unwanteds (besides the magical hidden world) was the comparison of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. And while I definitely can see why someone would say that, I wouldn't take that comparison into account while reading The Unwanteds.


    I really did enjoy The Unwanteds. It was an interesting concept for a dystopian and I loved the idea of a magically hidden world. To read about kids going from this terribly dull world where they've told how useless they are to a world where they can paint and see and dance is kind of amazing. And there was some serious creative magic like paintbrushes and using poems and manipulating them into weapons - it's just all very original and something I don't think I could ever come up with. I'm definitely impressed with the setting and the storyline of The Unwanteds.


    When I first started reading The Unwanteds, I was worried that the entire storyline would be laid out in the beginning, but I was very wrong. There were a lot of twists that I didn't see coming. I think a lot of times MG is perceived as more simple, but The Unwanteds definitely had a complex storyline with lots of characters (that I didn't get confused, so yay!) and twists.


    Overall, I enjoyed The Unwanteds a lot, even though it will definitely be enjoyed a lot more by younger readers. The creativity and the planning that went into the story is very impressive and I'll definitely be reading more from Lisa McMann.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2015

    Press here

    Great book up until the end the ending is awful but other than that good book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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