Reviews for Unwanteds

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 February

Gr 5-8--In the land of Quill, those who are "Wanted" blindly accept conformity and edicts that forbid creative activities. Other Quillans are consigned to be "Necessaries," individuals relegated to a lifetime of manual labor. The artistic, imaginative "Unwanteds" are slated for elimination during the annual purge of 13-year-olds, including Alex, whose twin brother Aaron is elevated to Wanted status during the same event. The Unwanteds are shackled and delivered to the Death Farm. Although their fate initially appears exceedingly grim, an amazing transformation occurs after the Quillan officials depart. The Death Farm is magically converted into a fantastical land called Artimé, complete with hybrid talking animals, animated objects, and a benevolent mage. In this exotic land, the Unwanteds discover that creative talents are highly valued and nurtured to become a source of special powers. The only problem is that Artimé will be destroyed if its existence is discovered, and there are those who can't resist attempting contact with Quill. Slow-paced initially, the action accelerates as the story unfolds. Alex and his Unwanted friends are sympathetic characters and the fanciful creatures of Artimé add whimsy. Simon Jones's masterful narration of Lisa McMann's novel (Aladdin, 2011) enhances the visualization of the tale, and his variety of distinctive British voices brings alive the personality of each character. For libraries needing additional light dystopian fantasies for the middle grades.--Rebecca James, Currey Ingram Academy, Brentwood, TN

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