Book Review: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Title: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Details: ARC, published in Hardcover, 390 pgs.
Published: August 30th, 2011 by Aladdin
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Source: Amazon


Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and 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 at the destination where 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.
But it’s a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.

The Unwanteds is a middle grade dystopian fantasy.  It takes place in a dystopian world but there is magic as well.  It was a fantastic and fun ride with witty and charismatic characters.  
Alex is the character we see the most of, and he’s certainly like-able, but we get to see his less like-able side as well and see that he as faults just like anybody else.  We see the mistakes he makes and the consequences for his actions.  

None of this book was horribly intense (which I was actually happy about) but plays out in a somewhat lighter manner and tone.   I actually quite liked the whole style and tone of the book and while it felt middle grade it was still engaging for me, an adult.   I also enjoyed the twists that Lisa was able to throw in.  We know that Alex has a twin but is his twin evil?  Or is he good and should be in Artime?  
Artime is full of magical creatures.  From the amazing stone flying cheetah and the other living statues, to the octogator (octopus/alligator), to the squirrelicorn.  They were all crazy and unique and definitely added the fantasy tone to the story.  

I enjoyed this book from the moment I picked it up until the second I set it down.  It was a fast and engaging read and I highly recommend it to readers of middle grade fantasy.  

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Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

Question:  What do you think of the combination of dystopia and fantasy?  Do you like it mixed or prefer more of the realistic dystopia with things you can really imagine happening?

Also, are you planning to give this one a try?  Do you have any concerns with it?  

Leave a comment with your answers!

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  1. So glad to hear that you enjoyed this book even though it was a middle grade. I have been debating whether or not to take the time to read it and your review makes me want to. =)

  2. I’m kind on reading this now. I had a hard time getting into it :( I don’t know why, maybe it was a Lola hangover. I’m going to finish after I finish Sweetly, though. Glad you liked it!!

  3. I think the combo of fantasy and dystopia would make this one a pretty adventurous read. I’m definitely planning on giving this one a try. Thanks for the review, Candace!

  4. I have this one and cannot wait to get around to it. As for your question, I like both dystopian and fantasy, but I can’t think of many books where the two are mixed. I don’t think I’d mind it though, as long as it works.

    I enjoy realistic dystopian books too though because I think they’re more affecting because they could be real.

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