Unwanteds
by McMann, Lisa






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.





In her first novel for middle-grade readers, McMann (author of the Wake trilogy) explores the fate of a nation that values strength over creativity. Each year, the isolated, militaristic nation of Quill celebrates the Purge, in which 13-year-olds are divided into three categories: Wanteds, who train to serve in the Quillitary; Necessaries, who form the service class, which keeps the infrastructure running; and Unwanteds. Too artistic to be useful, Unwanteds are sent to perish in the Great Lake of Boiling Oil. Fortunately, Unwanteds are actually rescued by the mage Mr. Today, who has created Artime, a secret and safe world on the border of Quill. Here, Unwanteds can develop their artistic talents and become magical warriors. Quill, which brings to mind present-day North Korea, never rises above a land of caricatured evil, but McMann has fleshed out an interesting world in Artime, and the idea of previously doomed children discovering that they really are valuable will have immediate appeal for preteens. Fantasy readers will find enjoyment here. Copyright 2011 Booklist 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) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.





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) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.





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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