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A Reader of Fictions: Art School - The Jam

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Art School - The Jam

The Unwanteds
The Unwanteds, Book 1

Author: Lisa McMann
Pages: 390
ARC Acquired from: Simon & Schuster GalleyGrab

Brief Summary:
In Quill, only the Wanted and the Necessary are kept around. Why waste limited resources on people whose skills run to things that do not help people survive or prepare for war against nebulous enemies? Who needs artists, musicians or actors? Not Quill, that's for sure. Once a year, the kids of age 13 are evaluated as Wanted (heading into the Quillitary), Necessary (work the farms and other work that must be done) and Unwanted (heading for death at the Lake of Boiling Oil). Alex is Unwanted; he's known that he would be for years, unlike his perfect brother Aaron. Turns out, though, that the Unwanted don't die like they're supposed to; instead, they live in a secret, magical paradise called Artimé.

Anyone who knows me well probably knows that I'm not a big fan of Lisa McMann. All of her prior books sounded good, but then were utter disappointments, largely because of the rather uninspired writing. I didn't even want to read this one, but felt compelled to because of its dystopian nature. Well, I am happy to report that McMann can actually write complex sentences. Hurrah! Now I am curious why she writes real sentences for a middle grade book, but not for young adult ones. Does she think teens will refuse to read anything that puts a subject and a verb in the same place?

Ranting over. This was a really fun read, very much unlike any of her previous books, both in style and tone. There are some dark aspects, but, for the most part, this is a story of a magical world that any kid would love to live in. I mean who doesn't want to go to a school where your room is made for you and full of stuff you love, where you can travel anywhere by tube, where you can eat whenever you want, where you take classes only in the arts and where you get to learn magic spells? I would still prefer Hogwarts, but Artim
é is pretty cool.

My favorite character by far was Lani. She walks everywhere with her nose stuck in a book...what's not to like? Most of the others I didn't particularly bond with, but they were interesting. Actually, the one I disliked the most was Marcus Today, founder of Artim
é. The problem is just that he kind of creeped me out, although I'm not really sure why. I think he reminds me a little bit of Willy Wonka that way.

The dystopian elements are pretty minimal, mostly just in the first chapter or two, so if that's what you want, you probably be disappointed. If you're looking for a fun story that glorifies the arts or you just love stories of magic, give this one a try, even if, like me, you were unimpressed by McMann's previous efforts.

"Anything that you want to do, anyplace that you want to go
Don't need permission for everything that you want
Any taste that you feel is right
Wear any clothes just as long as they're bright
Say what you want, cause this is a new art school"

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Blogger Nori said...

Wow! I was looking forward to this before. But now, I'm super looking forward to it! High praise from you!

September 18, 2011 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I like McMann's other series, but the first paragraph of your review made me laugh :) haha

September 18, 2011 at 6:09 PM  

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