Hey all! Another new year, and that means another year of TBF! To start off the year of book reviews and blog posts I reread a book I remember loving when I was younger, which is The Unwanteds, the first book in the hit fantasy middle grade series by Lisa McMann. Here's a summary:
It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate—until he discovers that instead of a “death farm,” what awaits him is a magical place called Artimé. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.
The most incredible part of this book to me, is the immensely strong, riveting, and just breathtaking world-building that fills this book. The descriptions of magic and its system, the creatures and unique world and places, all just screamed originality which I loved. This book has a strong storyline regarding creativity which is so very present in this book which despite being described as "the Hunger Games meets Harry Potter," is like nothing else I ever read as a kid. The concept itself, almost reminiscent of the dystopian books that filled the early 2010s, stands out from the typical teenagers take down the government type of story. Despite the story being aimed for younger audiences, McMann did not shy away from darkness and heavier topics, something I know attracted me as a child and that I appreciated again on my reread. And with that concept came another thing I loved: McMann's characters.
Our main group of characters were easy to quickly become attached to and root for throughout the story and the rest of the series, but each with their own unique qualities, as well as interesting, humorous, or emotional interactions between them. And despite not remembering the rest of the series as it has been several years since I read them, I do remember the wonderful character development that occurs over the series, making the characters and McMann's writing even better. Besides our young heroes, come two of the best parts of the story: Mr. Today, who plays the role of the the older wise mentor, but is also just brilliant and good intentioned, easily winning your heart over, and Simber, an alive giant winged cheetah statue who is unexpectedly a large player in the story, as well as in tying it all together, and in further showing the diverse imagination of McMann and how fun, magical, and unique this story is.
This novel emphasizes the need for creativity in life, an incredible message of celebrating individual talents, interests and difference: a great thing for younger readers to grow up with. And right alongside that is a fun, yet dark and compelling fantasy tale.
See you next time,