Alex and Aaron are twins, and when they turn thirteen, they already know what to expect. Aaron is identified as Wanted and sent to university. Alex, who already has too many infractions of creativity to his name, is identified as Unwanted and sentenced to death. But when Alex and his fellow Unwanteds step through the doors of the execution area, they find a wondrous Hogwarts-esque land where creativity and magic thrive entirely apart from the land where they grew up.
I picked up this book because the cover claimed it would be a combination of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And it is, sort of. It definitely feels more like a Harry Potter wannabe than anything to do with the Hunger Games, and it is definitely written for a younger audience. The school where Alex is sent is full of magic and secret passageways and odd creatures and talking statues and a wise old man who runs the place. Aaron, on the other hand, is in a place void of emotion or creativity or fun. I kept thinking I would give up on this book after I hit 100 pages (which is my requirement for a DNF), but I was intrigued enough by the story to keep reading. I can see how this book would appeal to tweens, especially those who have read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Lightning Thief and want more fantastical journeys and magic schools to visit. I would gladly read this book with my book club, because the kids love fantasy and have enjoyed every series we've started, so it would be easy to get them hooked on this one, too.
Recommended for: tweens
Red Flags: lots of fantasy violence, particularly in the epic battle scene
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars [negative points for being Harry Potter by another name, positives for kid-appeal]
Read-Alikes: The School for Good and Evil, The Dragonet Prophecy, Freakling