The Unwanteds (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

The Unwanteds (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.5 241
by Lisa McMann

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A riveting middle-grade dystopian novel from New York Times bestselling Wake author Lisa McMann that Kirkus Reviews calls “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.”

When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted,


A riveting middle-grade dystopian novel from New York Times bestselling Wake author Lisa McMann that Kirkus Reviews calls “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.”

When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the Quillitary. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination.

It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate—until he discovers that instead of a “death farm,” what awaits him is a magical place called ArtimÉ. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.

But it’s a rare, unique occurrence for twins to be divided between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of ArtimÉ that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate magical battle.

Editorial Reviews

Identical twins Alex and Aaron know that when they turn thirteen, they might be separated forever. Like all other children in Quill, they face an irrevocable classification: They will be adjudged "Wanted" (to be sent off for military schooling), "Necessary" (dispatched to menial labor), or "Unwanted" and sent to a death farm. Alex's horror at being consigned to extinction lifts when he discovers that the Unwanteds' death camp is actually Artimé, a hidden underground city of magic. Somehow though, this loyal twin cannot tranquilly accept this reprieve. What happens next creates a confrontation pitting city against city and brother against brother. An imaginative new novel by the author of Cryer's Cross.

Product Details

Demco Media
Publication date:
Unwanteds Series, #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Purge

There was a hint of wind coming over the top of the stone walls and through the barbed-wire sky on the day Alexander Stowe was to be Purged. Alex waited in the dusty Commons of Quill and felt the light breeze cooling the sweat on his upper lip. His twin brother, Aaron, stood beside him; their parents, behind. And all around, the entire community of Quill watched and waited, the bland looks of sleeping fish on their faces.

Mr. Stowe pressed his finger hard into Alex’s back. A final poke in the kidneys, a last good-bye, Alex thought. Or a warning not to run. Alex glanced at Aaron, whose face showed the tiniest emotion. Scared, was it? Or sad? Alex didn’t know.

The High Priest Justine, her long white hair undisturbed despite the breeze, rose to her full height and observed the silent crowd. She began without introduction or ado, for a Purge was neither exciting nor boring; it just was, as many things just were in Quill.

There were nearly fifty thirteen-year-olds this year. The people of Quill waited to hear which of these teenagers had been marked as Wanted or Necessary, and, by process of elimination, which of them remained to be Purged.

Alex scanned the group and their families around the giant half circle of the amphitheater. He knew some of them, not all. Alex’s mind wandered as the High Priest Justine announced first the names of the Wanteds, and he startled only slightly as the high priest spoke Aaron’s name. Aaron, who’d had nothing to worry about, sighed anyway in relief when he was among the fifteen names called.

The Necessaries were next. Thirteen names were read. Alexander Stowe was not one of those, either. Even though Alex knew that he was Unwanted, and had known ever since his parents had told him over breakfast when he was ten, the knowledge and three years of preparation weren’t enough to stop the sweat that pricked his armpits now.

It was down to a mere formality unless there was a surprise, which there sometimes was, but it didn’t matter. Everyone stood motionless until the final twenty names were called. Among the Unwanted, Alexander Stowe.

Alex didn’t move, though his heart fell like a cement block into his gut. He stared straight ahead as he’d seen the other Unwanteds do in past years. His lip quivered for a moment, but he fought to still it. When the governors came over to him, he put his arms out for them to shackle with rusty iron bands. He made his eyes icy cool before he glanced over his shoulder at his parents, who remained unemotional. His father nodded slightly, and finally took his finger out of Alex’s back after the shackles were secure. That was a minor relief, but what did it matter now?

Aaron sniffed once quietly, catching Alex’s attention in the silent amphitheater. The identical boys held a glance for a moment. Something, like a jolt of energy, passed between them. And then it was gone.

“Good-bye,” Aaron whispered.

Alex swallowed hard, held the stare a second more as the governors tugged at him to follow, and then broke the connection and went with the governors to the waiting bus that would take him to his death.

© 2011 Lisa Mcmann

Meet the Author

Lisa McMann is the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy; Cryer’s Cross; Dead to You; and the middle-grade dystopian fantasy series The Unwanteds. She lives with her family in the Phoenix area. Read more about Lisa and find her blog at Or better yet, be her friend on Facebook (McMannFan) and follow her on Twitter (@lisa_mcmann).

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The Unwanteds 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 242 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutly beatiful story! It was brimming with creativity, imagination, and fantastic characters; one of my favorites was High Priest Justine, she fit her lines nicely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was propaly the best book that ive ever read. I recommend this book to all.ages
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great! The plot was good, loved the style of writing, and the whole book's idea. The author could have been more creative with some of the things' names (for example, the military was called the 'Quilitary' because the country was called Quill) but besides that, it was a great read. WORTH BUYING!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read for anyone. A MUST READ!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No foul language, good plot. I liked it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book it is a must-read-page-turner-Simber-can't-even-make-me-put-this-book-down kind of story. It might just be better than Harry Potter. I almost cried with sympathy for Alex and I cheered for joy with him too. YOU ALL MUST READ THIS AWESOMISTICAL BOOK!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked the stuff they used to defend themselves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! READ TO FIND OUT WHAT.........
pagese More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Is there going to be a second? If you kniw please answer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book it was a different fantasy that made u think how horrible/awesome it would be 2 b an unwanted
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait for more couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book ,and I should say so myself because I've read it. I'm also a child. Anyway, this is a great book for people my age to read , in my opinion. Adults might think differently, but from the perspective of a child who loves to read and LOVES the harry potter and hunger games series, it is a great book. I am sure other children my age (10-11) would like it too jugding on the fact that every time I set it down (i have the paperback) , when I come back another kid is looking at it with interest and says they might buy it. Also by the fact that I've lost coun tof the number of kids I know that either love the hunger games or harry potter , or both. My point is that this is a great book , I love it and I bet you will too, if you give it a chance, you may already want to read it, I know I did !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When my mom said that I had to put the book away, she made me cranky, beacause it was such a good book. No foul language, no inapropriate behavior, and over all a good book! I recomened this book to anyone with a 2nd grade education. Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book :) Action-filled, suspenseful and lovable. One of my Top 10's.
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann is narrated by Simon Jones. Simon Jones has a very full resume that spans from t.v to stage to the big screen. After reading that he starred in films such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life I had high hopes of being entertained. I was not disappointed. Simon Jones did a great job. He really made this book come to life. His reading was flawless and he really gave each character their own voice. I was highly entertained by this audio book. One of the reasons why I wanted to read this novel is because it's described as 'The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter'. I'm a fan of both series so it definitely peaked my interest. After reading the book I can see why The Unwanteds was compared to those books. The Unwanteds begins in the town of Quill. Think of the most boring, most bland, most beige place you can think of and you've mostly pictured Quill. The town of Quill discourages any form of originality. There's no art, no music, no being creative in any way. The citizens of Quill are split into three categories when they turn 13 years old: The Wanteds, the Necessaries and The Unwanteds. The Unwanteds are sent to their death. However what the people of Quill don't know is that The Unwanteds don't actually die. Instead they enter the hidden world of Artime. Artime is completely different from the world that the children have known. In this new world their creative talents are celebrated and cultivated. It's full of color, magic and mystery. Alex and Arron Stowe are twins. Alex is an Unwanted and sent to his 'death' while Arron is a Wanted and sent to the University. Alex can't really relax in his new life without his twin. He would do anything to see Arron again and try to convince him to come to Artime. However this is a great risk. If anyone were to find out about Artime, it could be disastrous. I really like Alex's character. He has a devotion to his brother that's heartwarming. I also like his curious nature. His journey through this book is not an easy one and he has to overcome many obstacles. The story line to this book was good. It has mystery, intrigue and action. Was it as good as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games? For me, it's not. However it does possess some of the magical and dystopian elements of those books. It is a good story especially for the recommended ages 8-12. I think Lisa McMann did a wonderful job creating the magical world of Artime. There are a few action/battle scenes that are violent but it's not over top. The Unwanteds is a magical adventure that kids of all ages will enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even if its a mix been harry potter and hurger games ( ive hever read hurgery games) i think its wayyyyy better but at frist its confussing because i though unwanted ment that the got to stay but then it isnt...... and so Alex didnt report his brother when now he thinks he should have so they can be together. My favorit charter is Meghan because if there would be a movie i think id play a good Meghan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the way she described quill and Artime. Incredible charecters that are diffrent from the traditional mold of hero's
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is the best book i agree with the front cover review when it say "HARRY POTTER MEETS THE HUNGER GAMES" because thats what it is.I loved the HUNGER GAMES so much that i bought this book right when it came out, i dont want to be a spoiler so i wont tell anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Glad i read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A the beggining it was a git confuing but as i got into it i becsame more and more intrigued with the whole storyline and i am finding it ( ya im still reading it get outta ma face) an interesting story full of twists and turns and a riveting plotline and secrets. U better read or ill kill u in ur sleep ( jk)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book i recommed this book if you like adventurous fiction
Jillian Rollins More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book. I would say that it fell a little flat on some of the characters but that is just me. Lisa McMann weaves a spellbinding fantasty that will have you loathing the High Justine, cheering for Alex and his friends, and wondering what in the world is to be done about Aaron. A great read, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a captivating story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the moment I began reading this book, I felt I was reading something for a 5 year old. Did I miss something? Enough adults had written positive reviews I felt this could at least pass for a teen novel (Harry potter/Hunger Games comparison). Instead, I find and impossibly fast plot, with little character development and absolutely no "world/background on their world) development beyond "I made this world years ago and few magical items. Basically, the plot is hurried (if I would dare compare this to HP, its all 7 books in one book), and you can't really like any character because you hardly know any of them! I feel as if the author just put her eradic thoughts on paper regarding this story and did not want to use their brain to delve deeper past this outline of what could have been a great story.