Island of Shipwrecks
Island of Shipwrecks

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Series: Unwanteds Vol. 5   

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Annotation: Alex and his friends from Artime are stranded on a newly-discovered island, and they are not alone, while in Quill, his twin Aaron's power base grows as he joins with an unlikely ally in a risky plan to finally conquer Artime.
Catalog Number: #109107
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Aladdin
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition Date: 2015
Pages: 452 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-442-49332-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-90598-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-442-49332-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-90598-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2014026338
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Subject Heading:
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In her first novel for middle-grade readers, McMann (author of the Wake trilogy) explores the fate of a nation that values strength over creativity. Each year, the isolated, militaristic nation of Quill celebrates the Purge, in which 13-year-olds are divided into three categories: Wanteds, who train to serve in the Quillitary; Necessaries, who form the service class, which keeps the infrastructure running; and Unwanteds. Too artistic to be useful, Unwanteds are sent to perish in the Great Lake of Boiling Oil. Fortunately, Unwanteds are actually rescued by the mage Mr. Today, who has created Artime, a secret and safe world on the border of Quill. Here, Unwanteds can develop their artistic talents and become magical warriors. Quill, which brings to mind present-day North Korea, never rises above a land of caricatured evil, but McMann has fleshed out an interesting world in Artime, and the idea of previously doomed children discovering that they really are valuable will have immediate appeal for preteens. Fantasy readers will find enjoyment here.
Horn Book
Creativity is a death sentence in Quill, but unbeknownst to Quill's leaders, the locked execution area is actually Artimi, a magical world that nurtures purged citizens' talents. All the secrecy is catastrophically undone by Unwanted Alex, who desperately misses his Wanted twin. Quill is a caricatured dystopia, but Artimi sparkles with magic, action, and newly liberated teenage creativity.
Kirkus Reviews
The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter in this middle-grade departure from McMann's string of paranormal mysteries with romance for young adults. On the day of Purge in totalitarian Quill, which is run by the High Priest Justine, 13-year-olds learn if they are deemed Wanted to attend the university, Necessary to tend the land or Unwanted and purged by execution. Without a good-bye from his Wanted identical brother Aaron, Alex Stowe and the other Unwanteds travel to the Death Farm. Instead of death, they meet the lush and magical world of Artimè, kept secret from Justine by mage Marcus Today. In a third-person narration characterized by even pacing and whimsical inventions, Alex and his peers learn that their creativity threatened Justine's power. Surrounded by talking blackboards, transporting tubes and such fantastical creatures as an octagator (with the head of an alligator and body of an octopus) for instructors, the teens hone their drawing, music and acting skills while also wielding paintbrushes for invisibility spells and iambic pentameter to stun attackers during Magical Warrior Training, in preparation for battle against the Quillitary. As the youths explore fear, responsibility and free thinking, their spells may be used sooner than they think when Alex's twin bond is tested and rivals vie for Aaron's new position in Justine's government. Blending elements from two popular genres, this is sure to be a double hit. (Dystopian fantasy. 10-14)
Publishers Weekly
In her foray into middle-grade fiction, McMann (Cryer's Cross) delivers a fun mix of magic and science with a retro SF novel whose setting echoes classic artificial dystopias of the 1960s like Logan's Run and Make Room! Make Room! In the city of Quill, all signs of creativity are shunned, and any children who so much as sing or draw are declared "Unwanted" when they turn 13 and sent off to be killed. When Alex is culled from his family and sent to die, he is surprised to discover that the Unwanteds are actually taken to a hidden city called Artimé, where they are not only trained in the traditional arts, but also in the magic that these arts unlock. McMann juggles a handful of point-of-view characters nicely (focusing largely on Alex), showing their fear and wonder as they learn more about their world. The subplots-including young romance and murderous conspiracies-are skillfully interwoven, and if some of Quill's harshness borders on caricature (the city makes Sparta seem decadent), it serves the story well. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4&11;7&12; A young teen leaves his mundane world for a school where he will learn magic under the direction of a kindly head master. A precocious girl reads extensively and thus discovers spells unknown to her friends. McMann takes these familiar elements and makes them her own through the creation of two realms. In the dystopian land of Quill, 13-year-old Alex is judged by society to be an Unwanted and is sentenced to be cast into the Lake of Burning Oil, which is hidden behind a gate that is unlocked but once a year. He is stunned when the Death Farmer reveals himself to be, in reality, a benign mage and, rather than face a painful death, Alex and the other Unwanteds are welcomed to the magical world of Artim&3;. There they are instructed in the arts, which are forbidden in Quill, and eventually learn magical skills. Alex can't stop thinking about his twin brother, who is living as a Wanted in Quill. Aaron is rising quickly at Wanted University and becomes a prot&3;g&3; of High Priest Justine. In Artim&3;, McMann has created a world of magical whimsy full of talking blackboards; intelligent statues; and spells that are sung, painted, and recited. There's never really a sense of menace as the Quillians are more mean-spirited than frightening, and their technology is pitiful. This is a good starter fantasy or dystopia without the darkness in titles for older readers.&12; Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
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School Library Journal
Word Count: 79,554
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 12.0 / quiz: 172033 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.3 / points:19.0 / quiz:Q66063
Lexile: 800L
Island of Shipwrecks

In Tatters

When Alex opened his eyes, he saw a blurry image of Fox standing before him on the deck of the Unwanteds’ pirate ship. Kitten stood on Fox’s head, mewing at the top of her voice. The sound grew distant and then faded altogether, and the young mage’s lids drooped once more.

Fox stepped on Alex’s thigh and licked his face, trying to get the boy’s eyes to stay open. Kitten pointed over the bow with one tiny paw, still mewing.

Alex groaned. He was soaking wet and his entire body ached. His arms were tangled in rope, and he couldn’t pull free. And Fox’s driftwood tongue was harsh on his skin. He lifted his head to move away from it and squinted in the sunlight. The world swam before his eyes.

“Mewmewmew!” cried the tiny porcelain kitten. Alex didn’t have a clue what she was saying.

Fox began loosening the knots that held Alex to the ship’s bow. He paused to translate, “Kitten is wondering if you are okay. She considers you to be one of her very, very special friends, and—”

“I’m okay,” Alex interrupted. He coughed. Salt water burned his throat and nose. Fox worked at the knots with his teeth, and soon one of Alex’s arms was free. Fox moved to the next, and when that one came loose, Alex plunged forward and put his hands out to catch himself.

“Thanks, Fox. You’re a good, um, cat,” he said, which pleased Fox immensely. Alex’s arms wobbled. He pushed himself up and locked his elbows, then turned gingerly to a sitting position. He coughed again and winced. “And speaking of cats, please tell me the big one is around here somewhere.”

Simber flew over from a short distance away when he heard Alex’s voice. The enormous stone cheetah glanced out over the water and narrowed his eyes. “I am. But we’rrre missing someone else.”

Alex struggled to his feet, alarmed. “Who’s missing?”


Alex’s breath caught. He scanned the waves. “At least she can swim.”

“Yes. But I’m not surrre wherrre we lost herrr. If it was back at the beginning . . .” Simber trailed off.

Alex wasn’t at all sure how far they had traveled since their ship began the insane journey down a thunderous waterfall. When they’d reached the bottom, they’d gone screaming around a forward turn so that they were sailing upside down, and then another forward turn, climbing straight up a different waterfall, and around one final forward turn, bringing them upright again, depositing them here—wherever “here” was. It was the most frightening ride Alex had ever been on, and he wasn’t sure how he’d survived it.

“Oh no,” he said softly, thinking about the highly regarded octogator being battered about in the surf. Especially since she hadn’t fully recovered from her ordeal with the eel in the aquarium under the volcanic pirate island. “How will we find her?” He rose on shaky legs and rubbed the rope burns on his wrists.

“Spike is out therrre calling forrr herrr. Hopefully she’ll shoot up the waterrrfall like the ship did.” Simber was silent as his gaze swept the surface of the water, looking for the blue whale’s sparkly horn, but he didn’t see it. The sea grew calm, almost glassy, and the ship inexplicably moved away from the up-waterfall from whence they’d come, into the open water.

“Ah, wait a moment,” the giant stone cheetah said. His regal neck stretched upward, and his eyes narrowed. He flew higher and sampled the air with a delicate sniff. After a moment, he nodded. “Yes. Herrre comes Spike now with Octavia. She’s the last one.” The frown on his face softened, and he let out a sigh of relief, which almost never happened unless things had been very, very serious.

Alex, his brain still fuzzy, wondered how long he’d been unconscious, and what else he’d missed. He strained to see the two creatures, but they were too far away for his eyes to detect. Instead he looked around as the fog in his head began to clear. The ship was in tatters. Ropes and nets still held various humans, creatures, and statues who had tied themselves down to keep from flying about. And some members of their party were definitely broken. Captain Ahab’s hand held on to the ship’s wheel, but the rest of him was nowhere to be seen.

“Captain?” Alex called out.

“Aye,” came the gargly reply from the deck behind the ship’s wheel, where the captain lay in six or seven pieces. “I live. My wretched existence shall waste away another day.”

“He sounds about normal,” Alex muttered, and mentally checked Captain Ahab’s well-being off his list of concerns. He caught Samheed’s eye. “You okay?”

Samheed was easing his way to his feet nearby as Fox chomped at the ropes around his wrists. “Ugh. Major headache.” Once freed, he staggered and grabbed the railing for support. “Where’s Lani?”

Alex looked up at Simber for the answer. “And Sky?” His pulse raced when he remembered that sometime during the horrible ride he’d been holding on to her. The fear cleared his head.

“They’rrre both fine. Helping the injurrred. Everrryone is batterrred but alive thanks to Spike.” The cheetah swooped down to the water to pick up Ms. Octavia from Spike’s broad back.

“Mewmewmew!” cried Kitten.

Fox began to interpret, but then glanced at Simber and closed his mouth.

Alex shook his head. “I don’t know how any of us lived through that, whatever it was.” He stepped carefully to the railing and used it to steady himself. The water sparkled with the sun hanging low over it, making a pale yellow path in front of them. “Are you sure you’re okay, Sam?”

Samheed nodded and limped over. “I think so.”

“We’re still heading west,” Alex mused. “Unless it’s morning now.” He narrowed his eyes and wished for a better sense of direction. “Where are we? How do we get home? Do we have to go through that thing again to get back?”

“I doubt we’ll have to go through it again,” Samheed said. “I’m pretty sure that was a scroll feature. We’re on the other end now.” He rubbed the back of his throbbing head. His fingers came away sticky with blood. “Ick.”

Kitten hopped and mewed again.

Alex ignored her, completely puzzled by Samheed’s words. “What do you mean, scroll feature? Other end of what?”

Samheed wiped his fingers on his shirt. “I mean it’s like the scroll feature Mr. Today turned on in Artimé whenever new Unwanteds arrived to keep them from getting lost or eaten in the jungle. I rode on it our first day, remember?”

Alex frowned. He remembered Samheed getting mad and stomping off, away from the group, but he’d never asked what had happened to him. “I didn’t care much for you back then, you know.”

“Likewise,” Samheed said with a smirk. “I don’t think I actually told you guys what happened. But it was sort of like what we just went through, only on a much smaller scale.”

“You mean you scrolled on a waterfall and didn’t tell anybody about it? Are you joking?”

“Not a waterfall—I wasn’t on water in Artimé, I was on land. It was like . . . like I got sucked down a hill that rotated, and my feet were stuck to it, so even when I was upside down, I didn’t fall anywhere.” He pursed his lips. “Picture Kitten with her feet glued to the ship’s wheel. If we turned it, she’d stay stuck to the wheel all the way around. It’s kind of like that—I just went around, and it brought me to the other side of Artimé.”

“So . . . you’re saying that we went around the world? And now we’re . . . where exactly?” Alex looked left and right at the vast, open sea.

Samheed shrugged. “My guess is that since we began scrolling when we were as far west as we could be, beyond the Island of Legends, we’re now as far away from the Island of Legends as we possibly can be. We’re . . . we’re . . . east.”


Everyone turned to look at Kitten, whose tiny face was furious. She pointed with her porcelain toes toward the bow of the ship.

“She says—” Fox said.

“She says,” Simber interrupted, “that Ms. Morning’s seek spell came frrrom the west. Arrrtimé is that way.”

Excerpted from Island of Shipwrecks by Lisa McMann
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

A risky decision endangers both Artimé and Quill in book five of the New York Times bestselling Unwanteds series, which Kirkus Reviews called “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.”

Alex and his friends from Artimé are stranded on a newly discovered island after barely surviving a storm that destroys their ship. And it turns out they’re not alone…

Back in Quill, Aaron’s power base grows as he aligns himself with an unlikely ally. Together, the two enact a drastic, risky plan to finally conquer Artimé—a plan that could ultimately leave everyone in both Artimé and Quill in far more danger than Aaron realizes.

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