by Lisa McMann
Aladdin, 2011 390 pgs Grades 5-8
Its Purge Day in the drab, mythical land of Quill. As expected, Alex is deemed "Unwanted", while his twin brother becomes a covenanted "Wanted". Expecting extermination, Alex and his fellow rejects are transported to a beautiful land where creativity and humor are valued and encouraged and mythical creatures co-exist with humans. After a certain degree of creative readiness is reached, Alex and the new recruits begin to learn magic as a weapon to fight the land of Quill if a battle was ever to commence. Alex, himself, sets off a chain of events leading to a great war encompassing all the players on both sides. Alex must not only battle the hard-nosed Quills, but face off against his twin, along with other families with members on the opposite sides of the conflict. The battle concludes, leaving room for a sequel (Island of Silence, 2012 & Island of Fire, 2013) and a hint of romance to come.
The Unwanteds is what I classify as "Smart Kid Fiction". There are many characters to keep straight and the plot is advanced. I feel that the book would appeal to boys more than girls, but certainly not exclusively. Although it is a fantasy, it has a hint of dystopian fiction to it and the broken machinery in Quill lead us to believe it is set in the future, albeit a future with magic. The battling magical creatures feel like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and the book would appeal to Percy Jackson fans. The Unwanteds has a great concept and is not your typical fantasy. It does get a little intense at times and is completely lacking in humor, although some kids might not find that a bad thing.