Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Teen/YA Review: Unwind

I usually only read at certain times of day – when I rest in the afternoon and before bed at night – but today, I carried my book around with me, snatching minutes of reading time whenever I could.  Neal Shusterman’s dystopian teen/YA novel Unwind is absolutely chilling and completely compelling.  In fact, I also usually write my reviews in the order I read the books, but I couldn’t wait to tell you about Unwind.

Sixteen-year old Connor can’t believe his parents have signed the order to have him unwound.  In this frightening future, a second Civil War has been fought over reproductive rights.  The compromise that ended the war, The Bill of Life, states that life begins at conception and can not be disrupted until the age of thirteen.  From thirteen to eighteen, though, parents can choose to “unwind” their child, whereby every bit of him or her is transplanted into different donors, so that life doesn’t officially end.

Risa, fifteen, is a ward of the state who needs to be unwound to make room for the infant orphans arriving.  And Lev celebrates his thirteenth birthday with a huge party – not a bar mitzvah, but a tithing party, as Lev, the tenth child in a family with ten kids, has been brought up specifically to be unwound as a tithe for his family’s church:

“Are you getting scared?” Pastor Dan asks.  He’s always able to figure out what’s on Lev’s mind.

Lev nods.  “I thought I was ready.  I thought I was prepared.”

“It’s natural.  Don’t worry about it.”

But it doesn’t ease the disappointment Lev feels in himself.  He’s had his entire life to prepare for this – it should have been enough.  He knew he was a tithe from the time he was little.  “You’re special,” his parents always told him.  “Your life will be to serve God, and mankind.”  He doesn’t remember how old he was when he found out exactly what was meant for him.

In this warped world, the three Unwinds are strangers, but their paths soon cross in unexpected ways and they are bound by their destinies.  Their only hope of survival is to work together.

Unwind is a fast-paced, suspenseful adventure where the outcome of failure is unthinkable.  Although its premise is disturbing, it’s impossible to put down.  Like Shusterman’s excellent Skinjacker Trilogy that begins with Everlost, the author has created another unique world populated by adolescents left on their own to create their own society.  His characters are fully formed and sympathetic, even the ones who don’t appear so at first.  I finished Unwind and wanted to read everything else Neal Shusterman has written.

335 pages, Simon & Schuster


Jan von Harz said...

Unwind is one of my favorite books. I loved the concept for this dystopian world and how Neal used three characters all from different backgrounds to show the unwind hypocrisy.

Sue Jackson said...

Me, too, Jan! You're right - it was very creative the way he showed this world from different perspectives.


Andrea said...

Sounds great! My mother-in-law also recommended this one. I'll have to check it out.