Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Book Addict Dares You to Read: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

I love having the opportunity to challenge people to read books that I personally found compelling or interesting or just all out fun.  But I want to know what you think?  Have you read the book?  Did it stick with you?  If so, why?  If not, why? _________________________________________________

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Dystopian
Order Online:
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars
Bought this book after a friend told me about it.

In A Nutshell:
I have told everyone I know who likes Young Adult fantasy or has children who read at this reading level or who have bothered to ask me what I have liked lately to get this book.  I love the message!  I love the characters!  And I would like to reserve my ticket to visit Arteme today!

I was introduced to this book through my favorite local bookstore, Changing Hands, where Lisa McMann spoke as a special guest for Club Read (the kids club geared towards encouraging 8-13 year olds to read more).  Lisa McMann explained that she was inspired to write this book after her children came home with a letter from their school that announced the arts programs would be cancelled due to budget constraints.  Both of her children were very artistic in different ways and this cancellation was going to have a big effect on how they felt about going to school.  She commented to her family that it seemed like they were being punished for being creative.  This comment led her to express the idea of a world where a children literally were punished for being creative.  To this idea her son added not punished--but killed!

That family conversation led to the start of a unique and fun fantasy story where the value of creativity, of logic, of rules and order, are examined through the striking contrast between Arteme (where magic emphasizes and heightens creativity) and Quill (where law, rules and order have made creativity illegal).

Initially, I feared that the metaphor may be too obvious and superficial, but I felt like Lisa McMann handled this story and this metaphor expertly.  She creates an interesting and varied cast of characters.  The "good" guys do not always do the right thing or handle disappointment well.  They make mistakes and they learn from those mistakes.  The "bad" guys are complicated and in some cases they struggle and question themselves.  And while we as readers can easily tell who is "good" and who is not, the dynamics are more interesting because of the characters' struggles.

The one idea that struck me as inconsistent with the metaphor that Lisa McMann created was when Aaron was praised by the leaders of Quill for his solutions to their beef problem.  The solution he came up with to this problem seemed obviously creative to me--maybe not artistic, theatrical, or musical but definitely creative.  My hope is that this inconsistency (in my humble opinion) will be addressed as the series continues--maybe Quill will come to value creative thinking when applied to the practical concerns that they are focused on?  

At the Club Reads event, Lisa McMann read from the next book in the series, Island of Silence.  I cannot wait to read it--to find out what happened after she stopped reading (such a cliff-hanger--and so many months to wait!).

In the meantime, I also purchased Lisa McMann's newest YA Teen book and I cannot wait to read it!


  1. I have been wanting to read this one for a while. Seems all the reviews I have read on it make it sound sooo good!

    Beth ^_^

    1. I have been talking non-stop about this book since I started it. The first chapter really grabbed me! :)

  2. I'm not really into MG but it does looks good =)

    1. I do not read MG too often--but I am finding better and better MG examples lately. :)

  3. This one sounds very good :) !! Glad you liked it that much Shanan ;)