Publication Date: 30 Aug 2011 (Audio); 30 Aug 2011 (Print)
Series or Standalone: Series
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 1442344914 (Audio), 1442407689 (Hardcover)
Audio Length: 7 discs (~7.5 hrs)
Narrator: Simon Jones
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First Line: There was a hint of wind coming over the top of the stone walls and through the barbed-wire sky on the day that Alexander Stowe was to be purged.
The Unwanteds Series Order
Book 1: The Unwanteds
Book 2: Island of Silence (Aug 2012)
I was very excited to receive an opportunity to review an audio version of Lisa McMann’s The Unwanteds as I’ve been meaning to read something from her for awhile now. Going into this book I didn’t know anything about the story and so I was a bit shocked at its dark opening. A group of 13 year olds being sent off to their deaths as they have been deemed unwanted by the leaders of Quill. The opening chapter focuses on Alex Stowe, who is unwanted and who has known he is unwanted since he was 10. At the same ceremony, Alex’s twin brother Aaron is not just found to be necessary (as was initially thought) but wanted. Which puts him in the most elite bracket of the society in Quill. Being unwanted though isn’t as dire as initially thought though as the Death Farm isn’t quite what it appears to be from the outside. Instead it contains this magical and hidden world filled with magic and creativity and is very very different from the sterile confines of Quill.
The Unwanteds is a book that has many elements to be enjoyed by boys and girls alike and the narration is told from various characters of both genders. With no real rhyme nor reason between who is telling the story when other than for the convenience of moving the story forward. Taking this story at its bare bones there isn’t a whole lot that is super original about it but when taken as a whole you get a delightful novel that is filled with possibilities. In many ways the story reminded me of Harry Potter though a slightly simpler version of it. Which is to be expected as The Unwanteds is geared towards Middle Grade readers and Harry Potter to Young Adults. I think that The Unwanteds is a great book to recommend to those children who want to read Harry Potter but many not be quite old enough for its darker themes.
I enjoyed the time I spent in Artime and I look forward to reading more books in this series. I found the characters to be fun and entertaining. I look forward to seeing what will become of both Quill and Artime as the series continues as well as maybe learning about some of the neighboring nations that were only mentioned in this book.
I also enjoyed how this book really glorifies the arts and just how important creativity is in a society. There is such a stark difference between Quill, a city that is bleak and gray and where creativity is shunned, and Artime, a city filled with color and light. There were moments in The Unwanteds where I found myself rolling my eyes as something cliche happened but the moments where I left or where I was totally engaged in the story far outnumbered those. This is definitely a book that I will recommend to others. I also think that I enjoyed this one far more by listening to it on audio than if I’d read it in print as the narrator was just so amazing.
About the Narrator
Simon Jones is a fantastic narrator, as I mentioned above. He was a real gift for bring all the voices to life and you never once question who is doing the speaking. He is the sort of narrator that I don’t want to stop listening to and so I find excuses to extend the time spent in my car. This isn’t the first audio by Simon Jones and it certainly won’t be the last. His voice is magical to the ears and one that I highly recommend to all fans of audio books.