Island of Silence (The Unwanteds) by Lisa McMann

Posted by Sherry on 11/7/2012 in 2012, Children's Fiction, Cybil Awards, Fantasy Fiction, General |

Island of Silence is Book 2 in The Unwanteds series, and it suffered in my reading from my not having read the first book. I couldn’t really tell if the characters were poorly developed, or if I just missed the development. I tried to give the book the benefit of the doubt, but I would suggest that you start with Book 1 if you want to check this series out.

In Island of Silence, Quill and Artime are neighboring countries that are recovering from a recent war between the two. The magical barrier between the two countries is now gone. The artistic warriors of Artime struggle to forgive the citizens of Quill who sent them to their deaths and to take in refugees from grey, colorless Quill. The people still in Quill struggle to recover from their defeat in the war and the loss of their slaves, the Necessaries, and to understand what to do about the collapse of their safe and orderly society (based on slave labor). Alex Stowe, our protagonist, muddles through the book, trying to figure out his place in all of this post-war rebuilding and rejects the idea that he could be a leader in the new Artime. Then, a crisis gives Alex no choice but to confront his own insecurities and the schemes of his twin brother in Quill, Aaron, who is determined to return to power using any means necessary, even magic.

Here’s Alice at Supratentorial reviewing the first book, The Unwanteds, which, by the way, was a favorite with her nine year old son. So the series definitely has some things going for it. The blurb on the front is “The Hunger Games Meets Harry Potter“(not much Hunger Games, lots of Harry Potter). Creativity and artistic ability are valued in this world (well, eventually). The plot is exciting and well-paced. Book Two is all about the hard work of making peace between historic enemies.

However, just as Alice did with the first book in the series, I had questions after I finished reading Island of Silence, not about what’s going to happen next (the series is obviously unfinished at the end of Book 2), but about what in cat-hair was going on in Book 2.
Why does Mr. Today seem so ineffectual when he’s supposed to be the creator and sustainer of the country of Artime?
Why isn’t anyone keeping an eye on Aaron if he was so evil in the first book?
Why won’t the Wanteds do anything to get their own food if they’re starving? How do the Unwanted get fed? By magic? No one seems to do much in the way of work in this book.
What’s with the lack of water in both Quill and Artime? Why? It rains, doesn’t it? (Maybe this problem was explained in Book 1?)
Why do the Necessaries go back to Quill where they were slaves?
Why is Aaron so bad, and Alex so humble and good? Why do they make such diametrically opposed choices?
Why does Mr. Today choose Alex to be his successor?

Lots more questions, but you get the idea. I’m going to go with neutral as far as a recommendation on this one. If you decide to try it, start at the beginning, and then come back and let me know if I should start all over myself and read it the right way. Maybe it would work better that way.


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