The people of Quill have a very orderly existence. Every year, the 13-year-olds are sorted into groups: Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds. The Unwanteds are taken to the Death Farm and eliminated. Twins Aaron and Alex already have a pretty good idea what group each will be in when the Purge day comes; Alex has had some infractions (he drew in the dirt, for instance), while Aaron has done nothing unacceptable to the Quillians. So while it isn’t a surprise that Aaron is announced to be a Wanted (a great honor, especially since the boys’ parents were both only Necessaries), it’s still a bit of a hard truth to accept that Alex will be thrown into the Great Lake of Boiling Oil.
When Alex and the other young Unwanteds are bused out to the Death Farm, they are surprised to find that somehow there is actually a beautiful land hidden there, led by a benevolent magician. Magical creatures patrol the entrance to Artimé and to the huge mansion on its grounds. It takes a while for the children who have been rejected by one land to find they are most welcomed in another, but so it is. In Artimé, creativity is not frowned upon; it is encouraged and taught. Magic is tied to the arts here. Soon, the Unwanteds are happily settling in to their new home, learning and blossoming.
But Artimé always faces the threat of discovery by Quill and its High Priest Justine, backed by the Quillitary and its aging, rundown vehicles and weapons. The Artiméans are learning not just how to enrich their creative skills, but to use them to defend themselves for the time they will have to battle the Quillitary. With Aaron advancing rapidly in the leadership ranks of Quill, and the very talented Alex missing his twin, the battle may come sooner than any of the Artiméans would like.
The Unwanteds is a charming novel of adventure that should please any middle reader, boy or girl, and indeed any older reader who loves creativity and imagination. The idea of a magic land existing where all the creative arts not only are taught and nurtured in young people but are the basis for magic is just entrancing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am handing it right over to my 9-year-old.
Rated: None. There is only a little mild violence but nothing disturbing.