The Unwanteds

Lisa McMann


Alex Stowe is condemned to die at 13 years old. Why? Because he was named an Unwanted. A person who shows creative characteristics like drawing, singing, or dancing. He was found drawing in the mud. What did he draw? A square with a triangle on top; his house. And in the land of Quill, this is unacceptable. High Priest Justine runs the land of Quill by driving fear into the citizens and considers creativity a potential threat to her rule. She believes people should obey her decisions and live almost as robots. Creativity results in people obtaining feelings. With feelings come disagreements by the people to Justine's decisions and for this, she does what is necessary to eliminate this threat. She sends these people to their death by drowning them in a boiling lake of oil. Because of this fear, the citizens obey her and believe they are living a good lifestyle when in reality, their food is scarce, their military power is next to nothing, and even the air and sky around Quill has become a desolate gray color.

The Unwanteds, who are usually children, are sent to their graves by Justine. So she thinks anyway. Mr. Today is the Eliminator at the oil lake and is behind the executions. What's really happening is Mr. Today is saving these Unwanteds because he believes in the characteristics of creativity and imagination because it is truly a gift. He is a magical wizard who brings these children to the land of Artimé, beyond the walls of Quill where nobody knows of, and shows the Unwanteds that there is a life of freedom and happiness instead of the dreary one in Quill. In Artimé, creativity is praised because it defines a person as who they truly are. Before Artimé, these Unwanteds were not allowed to even show a sense of feeling so now that they are able to express these new feelings, they shape into their own special selves. For example, one Unwanted could be a expert painter and paint elaborate paintings or create elegant sculptures while another Unwanted could be a great musician and play lovely music off an instrument. This creativity allows for the children to connect with their inner spirit and practice another piece of art; magic. The emotions and imaginations of the children allow for them to create and practice magical spells and conjurations for good, or bad. This creative lifestyle gives children the gift of freedom and self pride.


The Unwanteds of Artimé fall into a schedule of a typical school day for students. They go from class to class experiencing each creative characteristics, increasing their talent with them. When they have shown a potential level of ability though, they are moved up into the next level; the level of combat magic training. For what reason would fighting be required in peaceful Artimé? The possibility of Artimé being discovered by Quill was always there and when that time came, Artimé would need warriors. Well, that time does come in the future and the new Unwanteds have become novice warriors with powerful spells to bind, entangle, and immobilize enemies. Their weapons are not the standard choice but instead their tools from their expert area of creative characteristic. Paint brushes, small musical instruments, their voices, and more are all the Unwanteds use for battle creating an array of magical forces working as one unit to defeat a foe.

When Quill discovers Artimé, High Priest Justine is furious by the betrayal of Mr. Today and orders the destruction of Artimé. A battle is imminent. Both sides have been training for something like this for years and when the time comes, the battle rages like wildfire. The Quill army is a force consisting of foot soldiers with guns and vehicles while the Unwanted force is children with the tools of artists and the such. The Unwanteds out maneuvered, out powered, and out strategized the Quill army. They used odd and abnormal tactics and fooled the Quill forces into many traps. Their creativity benefited them with an advantage to win this war and showed the power that is possible when that creativity is used.

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First off, I believe this book almost views the idea of American lifestyle. Artimé is America. The people are able to express their views and ideas without being harmed with only their actions punishable. The idea of creativity is the fact that Americans think outside of the normal standard of thinking and that is why our country has been so successful.

The idea of creativity is a power proves it is a gift in itself. The way the Unwanteds decimated the Quill army with their creative thinking showed that having that train of thought gave them the upper edge. This holds true in real life as well. If we relate the Unwanteds to Americans again; our military is superior because of how they maneuver and strategize. The subject is debatable though. Being creative gave the Unwanteds a sense of self being. It made them special in their own way by having the power of being able to express feelings and their thoughts. If we were not able to express our thoughts in our lives, or be able to even dance, sing, or draw; what would our lives be like?