Book Review: The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann

I recently read a middle-grade dystopian/fantasy book titled The Unwanteds. On the surface, this book looked like just another bland Harry Potter wannabe—but it surpassed my expectations.

The plot

In the futuristic realm of Quill, strength and cunning are valued, while creativity causes you to be Purged, or labeled an Unwanted and sent to the Great Lake of Boiling Oil. At least, that’s what everyone believes. Actually, the Unwanteds are rescued by a mage named Marcus Today and taken to a realm called Artime, where they unlock their true artistic potential and learn to use magic.

What I liked

The novel combined the best elements of “The Giver” and “Harry Potter”, without copying either.

 The good characters weren’t perfect, and most of the bad characters seemed to at least have a bit of humanity.

The worldbuilding was superb, immersing the reader in Artime while providing just enough information about Quill.

There were definitely some plot twists I didn’t see coming.

What I disliked

Some of the events of the story were a bit predictable.

 The main character was a little too flawed at points, making him unlikable.

Maybe I’m being picky, but a quill is a traditional symbol of writing, and thus, creativity. Why would the oppressive, boring world have that name? It doesn’t make sense to me.


I’d rate The Unwanteds four out of five stars. Any tween who doesn’t mind a bit of peril and fighting will enjoy it.

My short story, "Sing A New Song," will be published in Planted Word magazine July, 2017. I'm so excited!

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