The Unwanteds (Unwanteds Series #1)

The Unwanteds (Unwanteds Series #1)

4.5 238
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, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds… See more details below

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her foray into middle-grade fiction, McMann (Cryer's Cross) delivers a fun mix of magic and science with a retro SF novel whose setting echoes classic artificial dystopias of the 1960s like Logan's Run and Make Room! Make Room! In the city of Quill, all signs of creativity are shunned, and any children who so much as sing or draw are declared "Unwanted" when they turn 13 and sent off to be killed. When Alex is culled from his family and sent to die, he is surprised to discover that the Unwanteds are actually taken to a hidden city called Artimé, where they are not only trained in the traditional arts, but also in the magic that these arts unlock. McMann juggles a handful of point-of-view characters nicely (focusing largely on Alex), showing their fear and wonder as they learn more about their world. The subplots—including young romance and murderous conspiracies—are skillfully interwoven, and if some of Quill's harshness borders on caricature (the city makes Sparta seem decadent), it serves the story well. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter in this middle-grade departure from McMann’s string of paranormal mysteries with romance for young adults.

On the day of Purge in totalitarian Quill, which is run by the High Priest Justine, 13-year-olds learn if they are deemed Wanted to attend the university, Necessary to tend the land or Unwanted and purged by execution. Without a good-bye from his Wanted identical brother Aaron, Alex Stowe and the other Unwanteds travel to the Death Farm. Instead of death, they meet the lush and magical world of Artimè, kept secret from Justine by mage Marcus Today. In a third-person narration characterized by even pacing and whimsical inventions, Alex and his peers learn that their creativity threatened Justine’s power. Surrounded by talking blackboards, transporting tubes and such fantastical creatures as an octagator (with the head of an alligator and body of an octopus) for instructors, the teens hone their drawing, music and acting skills while also wielding paintbrushes for invisibility spells and iambic pentameter to stun attackers during Magical Warrior Training, in preparation for battle against the Quillitary. As the youths explore fear, responsibility and free thinking, their spells may be used sooner than they think when Alex’s twin bond is tested and rivals vie for Aaron’s new position in Justine’s government.

Blending elements from two popular genres, this is sure to be a double hit. - KIRKUS, April 15, 2011

"Imagination runs wild in this creative adventure."

--#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Mull

"Reading Lisa McMann's THE UNWANTEDS was like discovering a brilliant,

lost children's classic—except it's never going to be lost, because

readers will never, ever forget the magic they'll experience in

its pages."

--James A. Owen, author and Illustrator of HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS

Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Life changes forever when you turn 13 in the land called Quill. You are either selected as "Wanted" and go to University, kept around as "Necessaries" to do the menial work of the community, or purged as "Unwanted" and sent for elimination. Identical twins Aaron and Alex may look alike but there the resemblance ends. At "the Purge," Aaron is chosen to go on to University, and he plans to move up in the political hierarchy with no consideration for love or loyalty—except to the supreme ruler, High Priest Justine. Alex, who has been denounced for drawing is sent to the Death Farm, only to find instead a land of magic and refuge for the Unwanteds, Artime, which is kept hidden from the citizens of Quill. Although the revelation of this secret when Alex tries to entice his brother to join him is inevitable, as is the triumph of the magical over the military, this is still an enjoyable ride with fantastical characters and possibilities set in stark contrast to the drab, highly-regimented world of Quill. The ending begs for a sequel that will be an even more dramatic confrontation between the brothers as they gain power in their respective realms. Quill resembles totalitarian governments throughout history that have tried to hold onto power through censorship of thought and action. This story could serve as the impetus for discussions on forms of government, freedoms of speech and assembly, and even the value of the arts in education and society. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—A young teen leaves his mundane world for a school where he will learn magic under the direction of a kindly head master. A precocious girl reads extensively and thus discovers spells unknown to her friends. McMann takes these familiar elements and makes them her own through the creation of two realms. In the dystopian land of Quill, 13-year-old Alex is judged by society to be an Unwanted and is sentenced to be cast into the Lake of Burning Oil, which is hidden behind a gate that is unlocked but once a year. He is stunned when the Death Farmer reveals himself to be, in reality, a benign mage and, rather than face a painful death, Alex and the other Unwanteds are welcomed to the magical world of Artimé. There they are instructed in the arts, which are forbidden in Quill, and eventually learn magical skills. Alex can't stop thinking about his twin brother, who is living as a Wanted in Quill. Aaron is rising quickly at Wanted University and becomes a protégé of High Priest Justine. In Artimé, McMann has created a world of magical whimsy full of talking blackboards; intelligent statues; and spells that are sung, painted, and recited. There's never really a sense of menace as the Quillians are more mean-spirited than frightening, and their technology is pitiful. This is a good starter fantasy or dystopia without the darkness in titles for older readers.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Kirkus Reviews

The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter in this middle-grade departure from McMann's string of paranormal mysteries with romance for young adults.

On the day of Purge in totalitarian Quill, which is run by the High Priest Justine, 13-year-olds learn if they are deemed Wanted to attend the university, Necessary to tend the land or Unwanted and purged by execution. Without a good-bye from his Wanted identical brother Aaron, Alex Stowe and the other Unwanteds travel to the Death Farm. Instead of death, they meet the lush and magical world of Artimè, kept secret from Justine by mage Marcus Today. In a third-person narration characterized by even pacing and whimsical inventions, Alex and his peers learn that their creativity threatened Justine's power. Surrounded by talking blackboards, transporting tubes and such fantastical creatures as an octagator (with the head of an alligator and body of an octopus) for instructors, the teens hone their drawing, music and acting skills while also wielding paintbrushes for invisibility spells and iambic pentameter to stun attackers during Magical Warrior Training, in preparation for battle against the Quillitary. As the youths explore fear, responsibility and free thinking, their spells may be used sooner than they think when Alex's twin bond is tested and rivals vie for Aaron's new position in Justine's government.

Blending elements from two popular genres, this is sure to be a double hit. (Dystopian fantasy. 10-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442407701
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
08/30/2011
Series:
Unwanteds Series , #1
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
19,531
Lexile:
880L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
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

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter in this middle-grade departure from McMann’s string of paranormal mysteries with romance for young adults.

On the day of Purge in totalitarian Quill, which is run by the High Priest Justine, 13-year-olds learn if they are deemed Wanted to attend the university, Necessary to tend the land or Unwanted and purged by execution. Without a good-bye from his Wanted identical brother Aaron, Alex Stowe and the other Unwanteds travel to the Death Farm. Instead of death, they meet the lush and magical world of Artimè, kept secret from Justine by mage Marcus Today. In a third-person narration characterized by even pacing and whimsical inventions, Alex and his peers learn that their creativity threatened Justine’s power. Surrounded by talking blackboards, transporting tubes and such fantastical creatures as an octagator (with the head of an alligator and body of an octopus) for instructors, the teens hone their drawing, music and acting skills while also wielding paintbrushes for invisibility spells and iambic pentameter to stun attackers during Magical Warrior Training, in preparation for battle against the Quillitary. As the youths explore fear, responsibility and free thinking, their spells may be used sooner than they think when Alex’s twin bond is tested and rivals vie for Aaron’s new position in Justine’s government.

Blending elements from two popular genres, this is sure to be a double hit. - KIRKUS, April 15, 2011

"Imagination runs wild in this creative adventure."

—#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Mull

"Reading Lisa McMann's THE UNWANTEDS was like discovering a brilliant,

lost children's classic—except it's never going to be lost, because

readers will never, ever forget the magic they'll experience in

its pages."

—James A. Owen, author and Illustrator of HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS

Read More

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