I love everything about this series from the setting to the story to the characters.
The setting is unique with just the right mix of magic and mystery -- it's the type of setting that makes middle grade unique and keeps me coming back for more. I'm curious to see if the next book will shed a little light on the other islands and just where, exactly, they are.
The story, as I mentioned, is fantastic as well. McMann isn't afraid to shake things about and she does a fantastic job of weaving mysteries and answers in just the right way. Romance isn't always present in middle grade (which I enjoy), but it does have a spot in this series. I think it works really well with the kids just beginning to explore emotions freely and, most importantly, it's not the driving factor in the story. Plus, McMann isn't black and white about it all. Some people get together and then they move on, which is realistic, and I appreciate it.
This series has some of the best characters I've read. All main and main-side characters have fully fleshed-out personalities and interesting backstory. Plus, the growth and change they all go through is subtle and yet noticeable. I like when the growth feels gradual and natural as it does in the Unwanteds series rather than some revelatory moment when a characters decides to make a change (those are all well and good, but they're just not my general preference.)
The Nutshell: I loved it. And that's all there really is to say.
(I apologize if this review is terrible. At the time of its writing I wasn't feeling great and just kind of threw some words on the screen.)