BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS - The Unwanteds
BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
This week I would like to introduce readers to Sarah Cassidy, who will be providing us with reviews of Books for Young Readers.
Sarah has worked at Parry Sound Books all through her high school and University years. We are delighted that Sarah is with us again some weekends and has taken on the role of reviewing books written especially for teen readers.
It has always been important to me to stock and promote superior books for children and Sarah shares the same commitment to putting really good books into the hands of young people. I am very pleased to introduce her to you this week and look forward to sharing her reviews with you on a regular basis. Charlotte Stein
On my first day of university, my literature professor asked us why anyone should bother majoring in English. The answer, he offered, is because it is the creative arts that unite us, that will put an end to division among races, sexes, and so on. Lisa McMann's Unwanteds series captures this same sentiment—that creativity is a requisite for social justice.
Being written for young readers, the theme is subtly and whimsically portrayed. Alex and Aaron Stowe are twin brothers in a dystopian society that applauds intelligence and condemns creativity. The creative-types, Unwanteds, are ostensibly sentenced to death. We learn early in the novel, however, that fate has other plans for the Unwanteds, who are whisked to the secret and fantastical land of Artime, where they can exercise their artistic natures.
Aaron, a Wanted, remains in a society ruled by fear and blind adherence to the status quo. Meanwhile, Alex, an Unwanted, learns the power of free expression—power in this case being both symbolic and literal, because in Artime creativity gives you magical powers. Alex and the other Unwanteds learn spells like sleeping soliloquies and invisible paintbrushing. With their creative magic, the Unwanteds are able to stand up to the utilitarian society that once banished them.
Despite being a metaphor for the importance of using art to fight against injustice, Unwanteds is a delightful read for pre-teens and adults alike. It is described as "Harry Potter meets Hunger Games" because of its mixture of magic and dystopia. Unwanteds is a perfect novel for readers maturing from children's novels into teen reads. McMann writes simply enough for young readers to follow the story while peppering in impressive vocabulary. I have been recommending Unwanteds to adults who enjoyed Harry Potter and want a quick, low demand read. The message of the series is undoubtedly important, and being packaged into a fun read, this novel is a no-brainer choice for burgeoning readers.