MMGM: THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann (a middle schooler review)

While my son has read the entire Unwanteds series by Lisa McMann–including the spin-off books–several times, today he decided to focus on the first book for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann was a great story. It’s so good that I’ve read this series four times. There are seven books in the Unwanteds series. Today I’m going to review the first one. Despite being rather long, they are easy books to get into.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMannEvery 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 Artimé.

So, the Unwanteds is about the twins Alex and Aaron Stowe. This book is basically about Alex learning to have feelings, for the people of Quill are supposed to suppress their feelings, as well as learning to be creative. It is also, however, about Aaron as he tries to fit in as a Wanted without feelings, dreams, or anything that the Quill leader, High Priest Justine, doesn’t like. Which is especially hard while he struggles with a connection with Alex, who he thinks is dead. Alex is changing as he learns that the “Death Farmer,” whom he now knows as Mr. Today, has actually saved all their lives as he brings them into his colorful world full of music, art, and laughter. But, a shadow hangs over it all, because if Artimé is found out, Justine will surely kill them all for tricking her all this time.

The reason I keep coming back to this book is the world building. Artimé is an amazing and wonderful world. Also, I like the characters. Especially Alex. He is awesome.

I know this review was shorter, but sometimes short and sweet is the way to go! I really liked figuring out all the things when I first read it, so I don’t want to ruin the extra surprise for you when you read the book. (By the way, you really should read the book.) Also, after I’ve reviewed all of them, I’m thinking about just talking about what I liked best about the whole series, so some of the stuff in this book might be talked about then. I hope you liked this review! Bye!

Hmm. Sounds like he might be planning to review more of these books. I guess we’ll see in future weeks, although I won’t hold him to it as I expect by the end of next week he’ll already be on book five or six 🤣.

To learn about other middle grade books, visit the Marvelous Middle Grade blog hop at Always in the Middle…

Responses to “MMGM: THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann (a middle schooler review)”

  1. Matt Sweeney

    I thought that this series had a FANTASTIC start. I only went through the first two books. And let me just say, the second one had an amazing cliffhanger that I just did NOT see coming… It was a bit dark to give to my 8-year-old but would be perfect for readers a tad bit older. Thanks for the review!

    • Michelle I. Mason

      Yes, I could see it being too dark for an 8-year-old. Those labels of 8-12 for MG can sometimes be deceptive–especially when characters are growing with the series.

  2. Completely Full Bookshelf

    This book sounds quite intriguing! The plot sounds very interesting. Thanks for the great review!

  3. Natalie Aguirre

    I read the first book in the series and really enjoyed but never went farther in it. Not sure why. It must be a great series if you read it four times. Thanks for reviewing it this week.

  4. Greg Pattridge

    I remember wanting to read this book when it first came out, must be 8 or 9 years ago. Somehow it disappeared off my future reading list but thanks to your review it’s back there again. I needed a good series to get me through the summer. I look forward to hearing about the others in future reviews (no pressure, but I’ll be waiting).

    • Michelle I. Mason

      This comment just made him laugh out loud. He says on Monday he’ll have more, although when I asked he said he’s on book six of the re-read as of today.

    • Michelle I. Mason

      So it seems I misspoke about him having read all of the spin-off series. He says he’s only read the first one and even though he liked the characters, he didn’t like the plot and storyline as much as the original series. So he didn’t continue on with it. It seems your students are right in line with my son!

  5. Patricia Tilton

    I am not at all familiar with this dystopian series, but I like the opposing life paths. But your enthusiasm is catching! Will have to check it out. I like unusual stories.

  6. rosihollinbeck

    The artists in the society are the UNwanteds??? Wow. That is pretty counterintuitive. I would rather have a society of artists than intellectuals. This sounds like a pretty interesting premise for a book. I don’t read fantasy or dystopian novels normally, but this sounds like it might be worth the time. Thanks for a terrific review.


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