Name of Book: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Date of Publication: August 30, 2011
Type of Fiction: Fantasy
Theme: The theme of The Unwanteds is “not everything is as it first seems.” This theme is
shown multiple times throughout the entire book. For instance, in the eyes of the High Priest
Justine, Mr. Today kills all the children who are sent to elimination because they are
Unwanteds. In actuality, Mr. Today makes Artimé appear and the Unwanteds end up living, not
dying. Another example of this theme was when Mr. Today took the Unwanteds on a tour of
Artimé; the Unwanteds thought that they were still going to die, but really Mr. Today was giving
them a tour of their new home.
Place: An island called Quill. Probably in an alternate reality where magic exists.
Time: Relatively modern time (late 20th century to early 21st century), never specifically
Protagonist: Alex Stowe is a thirteen year old boy with dark brown hair and brown eyes who--in
a yearly ceremony in his city where the thirteen year olds are divided into three groups: Wanted,
Necessary, and Unwanted based on their past actions--is proclaimed an Unwanted and is sent
to the “Death Farm” with a group of other Unwanteds. At the death farm, Alex expects to be
thrown into a lake of boiling oil as the lore of Quill describes, but instead, he is thrust into a
world of creative magic and strange creatures. This is because no one ever dies at the Death
Farm as the people of Quill are mislead to believe. They are instead rescued by the mage Mr.
Today and live out their lives in the magical land of Artimé.
Talented: Alex is a very creative individual, and though that lead to him becoming an
Unwanted, he utilizes his talents many times throughout the book. Alex’s creativity manifests as
a prominent talent for arts such as drawing, painting, and sculpting. He uses his drawing talent,
along with his magic, to sketch the door to his brother’s dormitory in such perfect detail that he
was able to step through the door he drew into his brother’s dorm room in the Wanted
University. If Alex had not been talented enough to draw the three-dimensional door, then
Aaron, his brother the Wanted, would not have found out about Artimé, which meant High Priest
Justine in turn would not have found out about Artimé, and the climax of the story, when the
people of Quill and the people of Artimé clashed in a battle of magic versus sheer military
strength, would not have happened.
Naive: Alex is slightly naive in this story, especially when it comes to his twin, Aaron. After
Alex realised that he was not going to be Eliminated, Alex began to believe that Aaron should
have been Unwanted as well, assuming that because he and Aaron were twins, the other boy
would enjoy Artimé as much as he did. Not once did Alex wonder if his brother might have
succumbed to the practices of Quill, where people are told to forget the loss...