Recently there was an article published in The Wall Street Journal criticizing Young Adult literature for being too dark. I think the author might have a slight heart attack if they read the first few chapters of Lisa McMann‘s new middle grade book, The Unwanteds.
In a gray, regulated world reminiscent of the clone-suburbia of A Wrinkle of Time, the people of Quill are grouped into three categories once they turn 13: Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds. The Wanteds, deemed the strongest and most intelligent, are educated with hopes of becoming part of the Quillitary, maintaining their troops and their defenses against enemies being the most important thing to the people of Quill. The Necessaries perform manual labor in order to keep the citizens of Quill in food and water, and the Unwanteds, who are identified and deemed unworthy by exhibiting any signs of creativity or emotion, are executed, which should make eighth grade seem a lot brighter to young readers.