Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Posted January 15, 2011 by Lisa Mandina in / 0 Comments

I have wanted to read this book for a long time. When I was allowed to re-check out the Nook from work I decided to go ahead and read it. Now, first off, I have to mention that for the longest time this was on the staff rec display as a recommendation from Joanne that was described as a story about “a mother’s love for her son.”. And just from reading the jacket of this book, I knew that wasn’t true. But no one else agreed, so it stayed up. I thought I’d read it and see if maybe this was a part of the story that didn’t show up from the jacket. I mean, I didn’t even know this was a type of book that person at the store would read. And, I was right. This book was in no way anything like that. I sure hope no customers bought it with that impression, they would have been sorely disappointed.

And, on with the actual review. This was a really good sci fi book. It’s set in the future after there has been a huge war, almost a civil war in the country over Pro-Live versus Pro-Choice people. At the time, scientists have figured out how to use every part of the body in transplants. And so, to settle the war, they give both sides an option. The option is this, from the time of conception until 13 years of age, life is sacred, you cannot harm the children. But, any time from the age of 13-17 a child may be unwound. Which means all of their body parts are taken and given to someone who needs them. Parents can do this with children who are troublemakers. (I think 13 is a bad age to do this, as I teach that age, and know many parents that would be at their wit’s end! :-)) Children who are orphans, but are decided that they do not have anything special to give back to the public can be unwound. And sometimes, children may be born and be tithed, knowing their whole lives that when they turn 13 they will be unwound.

Our 3 main characters are Connor, a troubled youth, Risa, a ward of the state, and Levi, a tithe. Connor decides to run, he doesn’t feel it is fair his parents have decided to unwind him, and they don’t even tell him. He only knows because he found the paperwork in his father’s desk. Risa doesn’t fight back, but on her way to the Harvest camp, her bus is in an accident, thanks to Connor’s trying to escape, and so she runs. Levi is also on his way to the Harvest camp after his tithing party, and Connor tries to take him hostage in his escape attempt. They end up traveling a small way together, before Levi, who as a tithe, is not scared to be unwound, he knows it is his destiny, turns them in. At the time he turns them in, he calls his pastor, who tells him he should run, it is not okay to go be unwound. And at that point Levi wishes he’d listened to Connor and Risa, but is now finding his way on his own.

In this society, you can just drop a newborn baby off on someone’s doorstep, and if no one catches you doing it, that family must take that baby and raise it till 13. It is called being storked. Many other kids who are supposed to be unwound are introduced as well as Connor, Risa, and Levi go on their travels. We even meet some people who have had transplants from unwound children. And we find out that because of how the unwinding is done, these parts may still remember their old lives.

The creepiest part of the book I must say, is when we get to experience the unwinding through one of the character’s point of view. He is awake until the very end, as they take his legs, his organs, all the way up to his eyes, etc. It still creeps me out to think about what it was like as I read it.

This was an intense, frightening book in many ways. But a very good read. I recommend it to all sci fi readers who like the futuristic worlds, or even adult sci fi readers.
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