The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

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Posted on September 13, 2017 10:23:07 PM UTC
Advanced Elementary, Golden Sower Award, Middle Grades, Review


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Title: The Unwanteds
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ISBN: 9781442407688
book cover

One of the reasons I fell in love with the Golden Sower Award program is that they introduce such a wide variety of great books every year. Young readers can choose their favorite genres, but more determined kiddos read all ten nominees in their category, and many of them find new authors or styles of writing that they never would have considered before. Or at least that is what happened to this adult reader. I originally published this review in January of 2014 on Goodreads.com. Another book on the Golden Sower nominee list for middle grades, I was wary about this one. I do judge a book by its cover -- sorry -- and this one said "science-fiction fantasy", of which I am not a fan. My daughter started reading it on her own at first, but she missed reading to me and wanted to share the plot so badly. Fortunately, McMann does a pretty good job of making this genre palatable for even the wariest reader. In the fictional land of Quill, creativity and original thinking is outlawed -- to the point that at age thirteen, children are separated into groups of Wanteds and Unwanteds. The children who show signs of creativity are sent to the Lake of Boiling Oil to die, and a Death Farmer just outside of Quill disposes of their bodies. Everything is not as it seems, and the story follows a set of twins, one who remains in Quill as a Wanted, and the other who is led out of the city as an Unwanted. When the Unwanteds reach their destination, they instead are welcomed into a new and amazing society called Artime, where they learn their innate talents are actually gifts to be further explored and enjoyed. For their own protection, Artime has always been a secret to the people and leaders of Quill, so when they are finally discovered, a battle ensues. Another cautionary tale of societal woes, it is a much better story than the Hunger Games for those 8 to 13 or so.