THE UNWANTEDS is one of those buzz books that I heard about so much I finally picked it up. I read the first book earlier this year, before I started participating in Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, but now there’s a second one, and I’m thrilled to cover THE UNWANTEDS: ISLAND OF SILENCE today.
If you haven’t read the first book, you may want to hold off on reading this review as even the description of this second book gives away quite a bit of the first one.
Still reading? Ok, here’s the description with book one spoilers:
The battle is over. The magical barrier between the dreary land of Quill and the fantastical world of Artime is gone. Now residents of both places are free to mingle, but tensions are high. The artistic warriors of Artime struggle to forgive those in Quill who condemned them to death, while the Quillens attempt to recover from the shock of Artime’s existence, the loss of their leader, and the total collapse of their safe, orderly world.
Alex Stowe has recovered from his physical wounds since his death-defying role in Artime’s victory, but his confidence is shattered. He battles self-doubt after Artime’s beloved mage, Mr. Today, makes a stunning request, which is further complicated by the mysterious arrival of two silent, orange-eyed teenagers. Meanwhile in Quill, Aaron is devastated by his fall from grace. Spurred by rage, Aaron devises a masterful plan of revenge that will return him to power … if no one gets in the way.
On to the five things I loved most:
1. “The Hunger Games Meets Harry Potter.” –Kirkus Reviews, on Book One of The Unwanteds – Ok, so that’s a tall order to live up to. I loved both of these series (I know, who doesn’t?), so that line immediately caught my attention. I couldn’t imagine how a book would combine those two very different stories, but THE UNWANTEDS really does. I would dare to say this second book goes a little more in the HUNGER GAMES direction. It’s definitely for older MG readers. Some seriously bad stuff happens that might upset younger readers.
2. The point of view – I don’t write in omniscient point of view, but I appreciate when someone does it well. Lisa McMann has it down. We get glimpses into a number of characters, but particularly with the secondary antagonists, she gives just enough to make you wonder if they’re really antagonists at all or if they have some other plan. She kept me guessing, and that kept the tension up, so well done.
3. The What?! factor – I could also call this the major twist, but since it actually made me say “What?!” out loud, I figure this is more appropriate. Something happened in this book that caught me totally by surprise, but it wasn’t unearned, and I love it when an author can pull that off.
4. The character arc – Even more than in the first book, ISLAND OF SILENCE shows Alex growing into his own. Others, particularly Mr. Today, see his potential before he does. It’s great to see him drawing from his inner strength to make tough decisions about his friends, his brother, and his future. He truly figures out his place in the world, and I can’t wait to see what he does with that assurance in the next book.
5. The ending – The book ends with the kind of cliffhanger that made me want the next book right away. I’m not sure how many books are planned in this series, but the way Lisa McMann turned the story on its ear in this one sets up the potential for something epic in the third book. It’s one of those times where I wish I hadn’t read the books until all of them were available. Oh well, too late now.
Have you read this series? What do you love most about it?
For querying writers, Lisa McMann is represented by Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.