Top positive review
great series for 8-12 year-olds
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2019
At first, it seems like this is just another allegory about a society that gets rid of the weak and infirm. (Like The Giver, The Lottery, etc.). In Quill, the elderly are removed from society and at a certain age (between 10-16), kids are divided into Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds. Wanteds are strong and intelligent and invested in. They go to Wanted University to learn military skills. Necessaries are kept around for roles that are necessary (like burials) but not roles Wanteds play. Unwanteds are dumped into a lake of boiling oil.
Except they aren’t. The Quillians think they are, and then they are actually dumped into a magical world that values art and creativity. It’s like Hogwarts for magical artists, and it’s all concealed from Quill. Students “major” in magical art, magical theater, or magical drawing. This is all very fun, and those majors actually translate to fighting skills should this magical world ever be attacked by Quill. For instance, you can put an enemy to sleep with a boring soliloquy. You can paint a door to another place, and step through it. You can splatter paint fight.
At the end of Book one, Quill and Artime (the magical world) do come to a head. The military leader and high priest of Quill - Justine - discovers that her brother Marcus had been managing this magical world rather than disposing of Unwanteds and attacks. Predictably, Artime prevails.
There are a few things I liked about this book as a parent:
1- It’s interesting and my 9-year-old loved it. I got books 2-7 from the library and he read them all!
2- The central conflict is good and evil, but it’s a little more interesting. It’s creativity vs. brute strength.
3- The central Unwanted character -Alex- works to try to reconcile with this twin brother Aaron, who is a Wanted. Airtime is not looking for a fight, but for healing.
4- While there is war, this is not gruesome. Most of Artime fighting incapacitates Quillians but doesn’t kill. They make a point of being able to win rather than trying to do maximum harm.
5- Marcus, the grown up in Artime, is a true hero. He has saved all of these kids, and worked to build a place with values he believes in - even when it comes at a cost.
6- The relationships between the kids in Artime seem real, and they value loyalty, forgiveness, and trust. For the most part, they are positive relationships. And when a kid reads a seven book series, I think they learn from the relationships in the book!
I recommend this for 8-12 year olds!