For two years, Alex Stowe has known he was an Unwanted: a designation received because he drew a picture in the dirt. This common childhood activity is not allowed in Quill, where creativity is considered a weakness and detrimental to society. So Alex knows that the year he turns thirteen he will be handed over to the Eliminators and his life will come to an end. And his twin brother Aaron, a Wanted, will attend university and face a bright future.
However, Alex and the busload of Unwanted children are in for a surprise when they reach their dreaded destination. For they are met by a variety of amazing creatures and the very unusual Mr. Today. With the words “How does it feel to be eliminated?” the flamboyantly-robed gentleman welcomes the stunned arrivals to Artimé: a picturesque land where Unwanteds not only live but flourish, and the artistic leanings that landed them there are not only condoned, but nurtured.
As Alex and his friends acclimate themselves to the wonders of their new home, they meet Unwanteds who have lived and grown up in Artimé since their own “purges.” While the recent arrivals struggle to overcome negative emotions (now that they are allowed to feel anything) about Quill and those who sent them to a terrible fate, they learn that the danger has not passed. For the day may come that Artimé will be discovered by the Quillen powers that be, and all of her residents must be prepared to fight to defend their land. Unfortunately, the threat is realized, and humans and magical creatures alike are forced to devise methods to defeat an enemy bent on the destruction of all they hold dear. When it becomes apparent that Alex’s ambitious twin Aaron is involved in the attack, the teen must come to terms with the discovery–and prove to his fellow Artiméans where his loyalties lie.
As the second book in the series opens, the residents of Artimé, under the guidance of their beloved Mr. Today, welcome any Quillens who wish to join them. True to the magical nature of the mansion in which everyone dwells, there is space for all. Yet, the opening of the land does not mean the threat from Quill is at an end, as a new attack is launched with tragic results.
But the renewed danger is not all that is occupying Alex’s thoughts. For Mr. Today has informed him of the need to designate a successor–and he believes the fourteen-year-old is the best choice. Alex is understandably reluctant to agree to such a monumental undertaking, but there is little time to dwell on the request. After two unconscious children wash up on the shore in a makeshift raft, those with healing talents endeavor to revive them. Who they are and where they are from is a mystery begging to be solved.
In the meantime, back in Quill, Aaron (now out of favor as the old regime has crumbled) longs for the days when Necessaries provided for all the Wanteds’ needs before they flocked to Artimé and a better life. Discovering that there are others who share his sentiment, the “evil twin” formulates a plan to invade the creative settlement and reclaim what the disgruntled Quillens feel is their right.
Lisa McMann has created a place that is magical in every sense of the word. Her vivid descriptions bring colorless Quill and vibrant Artimé to life. Readers will feel the gentle breeze off the sea, visualize the talking and moving statues, and empathize with the Unwanteds as they enthusiastically throw themselves into their reimagined life and deal with new and conflicting emotions. Alex is a believable character whose transformation from disillusioned boy to mature teen is heartwarming. The friends, teachers, and creatures populating the world of Artimé become real to readers, and we genuinely care about them. The residents of Quill are as multidimensional as their Artiméan neighbors. The Unwanteds is a series that is sure to enchant fantasy and dystopian enthusiasts alike–and anyone else who appreciates a meaningful, unforgettable story.
Published by Aladdin in 2012
Read more reviews and buy The Unwanteds on Amazon: The Unwanteds
Island of Silence (The Unwanteds)