Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths
Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret--behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.
In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation.
But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.
First let me get it out of my system and just say that I have loved every Lisa McMann book I have read. This one is no different. The idea of a society where when you turn 13 you are divided into one of three groups of citizens: the Necessaries, Wanteds, or the Unwanteds appalled me. In Quill the Wanteds get to go to the University and have the best training. The Necessaries get to do the physical labor and other things that don’t require a lot of brains. If you are an Unwanted you are shipped off to be killed. Unwanteds are the creative people. I realized that I could very easily be considered one of the Unwanteds. I thought it was strange that the people of Quill are against anything creative. You can’t really control creativity. That is why they are considered the Unwanteds. Alex Stowe is an Unwanted while his twin brother Aaron is a Wanted. Alex is sent to what he is sure is to be his death while Aaron is sent to University and goes through training to forget his brother. I kept wondering what kind of parents would allow their kids to be shipped off to be killed. Alex arrives only to find that things aren’t what everyone thinks. He is actually taken to the land of Artime. This place was created by an old magician. The two lands are in contrast to each other. Quill where Aaron lives is very dull and boring while Artime is colorful and allows them all forms of creativity. I really loved all of the different fantasy animals or creatures. Alex’s training also involves learning how to use his creativity along with magic to protect the place. Alex and Aaron still share a connection like many twins. This becomes a danger when they both start having dreams about each other.
This is a perfect fantasy for my middle school students. I can’t wait to return to school and put it on my shelves. I love the fact that Lisa McMann can write such different books that will appeal to the same age students. I think my students will be engrossed in how this story plays out. One think that thought about as I began this book and we came to the Purge was the book “Unwind” by Neal Shusterman. It just seemed so strange that parents would willing send their kids off to be taken apart and their body parts sold. That is where these two books were similar. As a parent I just couldn’t understand the parents. This is a book that stays with you for a long time.