When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the Quillitary. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination.
It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate—until he discovers that instead of a “death farm,” what awaits him is a magical place called Artimé. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.
But it’s a rare, unique occurrence for twins to be divided between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artim that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate magical battle.
This book was disturbing, but that’s one of the reasons I rated it so high. The book starts off with the main character being led to his death. His parents and brother willingly get rid of Alex, to the point that the mom even mentions “I wonder if we will get back the clothes the Unwanted was wearing.” That kind of societal conditioning shocked me.
You quickly find out the kids didn’t die, which is fine because no one except for the saved children and Marcus know this. The concept of the magic being all creativity-based made it a fascinating concept, but it felt like a magic system that was too easily used to overpower every single one. Despite the big war in the end killing people, it still didn’t feel like there were any real consequences because no one we cared about died, and even those who were injured you already knew would survive.
I agree with another reviewer that stated that The Unwanteds feels like a bunch of classic tropes tossed together. It definitely has that. Dystopian world? Check. Mentor figure? Check. Tragic backstories for the “bad” guys? Check.
There’s something missing in this story to take it to the next level like Holes or Wings of Fire or Warriors for me, and I really feel like it’s the friendships. The Unwanteds who banded together to become friends felt so weird together. It felt like they were trying to be the Golden Trio but failed. There’s that spark missing that makes Ron, Harry, and Hermoine such beloved characters and friends.
Other reviewers have put all of this so much better than myself, so I’m going to stop talking so you can go read those reviews instead.