Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: August 2011
ISBN: 9781442344914
Source: Audio CDs sent by publisher

When kids show inklings of creativity, they are purged each year from Quill as Unwanteds.  Alex has known he was an Unwanted for years, but when he leaves his twin brother Aaron behind, he feels like he left a part of himself behind.  When the unwanteds arrive at the place where they will be disposed of, a giant boiling lake of oil, they expect a swift death.  When instead they are led to a secret world where creativity is prized, everything they knew about their world is about to be turned upside down.

Things I Liked:
This was a fun and exciting new fantasy with a hint of dystopia.  I loved the concepts and creatures that populate McMann's new world.  I thought this introduction to that world and the characters was well executed and totally sucked me into the story.  I adored the minor characters, especially the winged cheetah statue (awesome image).  The magical things the kids can do with their arts (I want to paint myself invisible or put people to sleep with a soliloquy) were just creative.  Listening to this one on my commute was a delight!  I loved the voices Simon Jones used - I could listen to him talk all day - and the inflections were done perfectly.  All these things combined make this a perfect choice for younger fantasy fans.

Things I Didn't Like:
I have to admit, the middle dragged a bit.  I loved the world and the unique way art and music were incorporated in the story, but I just thought it didn't quite keep the pace up throughout.  My biggest complaint though was with the idea of Quill and Artime. I was annoyed at the implied idea that science, math, and those kinds of subjects are boring, plain, and make you evil.  I didn't like the way it seemed to say creativity and imagination were not a part of those subjects and only applied in the arts.  I like both science and art, so I was bothered at the exclusivity of the two worlds and how one of them was considered bad and the other good.  But I suppose that is probably just me talking, because it really was a fun fantasy book!  (Also, the Kirkus Reviews quote that this is "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter" only makes this one suffer by comparison.  It's not awful, but it definitely is not either of those.)

Actually, it reminded me more of the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull

s-factor: none 

maybe one or two, can't remember for sure

mrg-factor: none 

v-factor: ->-> 
it got a little bit gruesome and violent near the end

Overall rating: **** 

Do you guys like it or hate it when new books are compared with old favorites/classics/popular books?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Interesting. I've read a couple of McMann books and this sounds like a HUGE departure for her. Maybe she's just getting her "sea legs" in this genre?

  2. I actually really enjoyed this book. I think Lisa was trying to explore how Art can often feel like the wrong thing to be a part of when the world centers around people getting careers and making money in math and science careers. I think it works out very well and I'm sorry you had a few problems with the book.

    I actually would say it is a mix of some dystopian ideas from The Hunger Games, set in a world that is pretty similar to Harry Potter. Personally I can't wait to continue on with this series and grow with the characters over time just like i did with Harry Potter.

    Thanks for the great review.

  3. Susan, yeah I've been meaning to read her YA stuff since I assume that might be much more developed.

    Alexa, I can see that might drive her writing so much good for Art and bad for Science/Math. That definitely does drive a lot of career choices, unfortunately. I just wanted it to be more balanced, since I am so passionately into both math/science and the arts.
    The first few scenes were a bit HG-ish, but the rest is nothing like, to me. And I can see the bare bones of a school for magical kids being HP-ish too. I'll likely continue with the series eventually.

  4. Melissa, I'm a complete math and science person, you give me a paint brush and I will probably use it to write out math problems in paint lol. I don't know if you know this but she actually wrote this because of her kids, she has creative children who seem to struggle in math and science. She basically wanted to create a world were they fit in, where they can be the ones on top.

  5. Alexa, that's cool, I didn't know that! Good for her and her kids!


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