Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Unwanteds

The Unwanteds (Unwanteds, #1)Title: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: August, 2011
Genre/Format: Dystopian-Fantasy/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds got to university, 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 to the destination 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. 
What Kellee Thinks: This is one of the few books that I just cannot figure out the genre. The book starts off as most dystopian novels do- introducing you to a dreary civilization with a tyrant controlling the citizens. In The Unwanteds, you get introduced to the Stowe boys who are in the middle of the Purge- a ceremony that separates the wanted and necessaries from the unwanted. The unwanteds are sentences to death. Alex already knows he is an unwanted and has tried to prepare himself to be separated from his twin brother Aaron, who is a wanted. After the purge, Alex, along with the other unwanteds get taken to the death camp at the edge of the city. And this is where everything changes. The unwanteds enter the death camp to find that there is a magical world that is hidden (through magic) from the dystopic world on the other side of the locked iron gate. Here, Alex and his friends Meghan and Lani meet Mr. Today, the magician who runs Artime, as well as Jim, a magical flying turtle, and other amazing things. This, obviously, causes everyone's life to change drastically- and the adventure begins. 

And what I truly loved about this book- The unwanteds were any child who showed any creative talent, so Artime was a place filled with art, theater, music, writing, reading, etc. and the Artimians fought with their art (and magic)! How cool is it that the band-nerds and book worms and weirdo artists get to kick butt with what they love the most! Amazing shout out to creativity and art. 

Such a unique book and the blurb, "Hunger Games meets Harry Potter" really makes sense when you finish. A fun book for middle grade and a definite purchase for any teacher.
What Jen Thinks: I think this is a fun book that kids will enjoy because it does mix Hunger Games with Harry Potter. I was so distraught at the beginning when certain kids are deemed "unwanted" and sent to their deaths. It reminded me a lot of the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. It's very cool that the kids end up in a magical world after they are sent away and don't actually end up dying. Some parts of the magical world were fun, but others left me wanting more. Part of it might have been that I had just finished listening to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (an adult novel) and the magic in that book knows no bounds whatsoever. I found that I wanted the kids and the adults in Unwanteds to be more creative with how they use their magic. I also felt like the book dragged a big once the kids were in the magical part of the world. 

I do agree with Kellee that the kids who find their passion in the arts do get to show off what they can do in this book and that is celebrated. I have a feeling kids will enjoy this book, but it fell short for me.
Read Together: Grades 4 to 8
Read Alone: Grades 5 to 8
Read With: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, The Eternal Hourglass by Erica Kirov, Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis, Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Snatch of Text: 
"Drawing the picture- that's called art. Drawing. Sketching. There are lots of different words for it. And that wasn't magic at all. That was creative talents. You have it in you already, you know. Give it a try." (p. 66)  
Mentor Text for: Setting, Genre
Writing Prompts: In the Unwanteds, art, music, writing, etc. are considered evil. Do you feel that books, art, music, etc. are important to our civilization? Why? 
Topics Covered: Art, Creativity, Individuality, Reading, Books, Writing, Music, Magic, War, Family
Kellee *hearts* It:
Jen *hearts* It:

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