Author: Neal Shusterman
Year published: 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 352
Recommended age: 12 to 17
Summary (from Amazon): In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child’s body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.
With breath-taking suspense, this book follows three teens who all become runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents’ tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing. As their paths intersect and lives hang in the balance, Shusterman examines serious moral issues in a way that will keep readers turning the pages to see if Connor, Risa, and Lev avoid meeting their untimely ends.
1. What is the story about? UNWIND is about a dystopian society that supports post-natal abortion, which means parents can “unwind” their child after a certain age, taking apart the child and donating their body parts to hospitals and other people who need them. It’s about three kids who are about to be unwound, but two of them escape and kidnap the third. In the eyes of Conner Lassiter, he is a kid who gets into lots of fights, so his parents schedule him to be unwound. He finds out by snooping through his parents’ papers and runs away. He gets caught and escapes by running from the truck. On his way across the freeway, he sees a kid in white clothes – a tithe, which is a kid who the parent donates to God by unwinding him . This tithe is Lev Conner and he kidnaps him to save him from being unwound. They meet Risa, who was being unwound because she was in a state home and they didn’t have enough room to keep her. The story is about how these kids try to end the practice of unwinding.
2. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? The cover is a fingerprint and a silhouette of a person. I don’t really look much at the cover of books, though.
3. Who is/are the main character(s)? Can you relate to them? I wouldn’t want to be killed or “unwound.” I guess I’m a little like Conner in that I get provoked easily. If I was in that situation I would run like he did.
4. What is your favorite part of the story? My favorite part of the book is when Lev becomes a clapper. That’s when they put an explosive chemical in your blood so that if you clap your hands or kick something or even jump, you blow up.
5. What is your least favorite part of the story? My least favorite part of the story is when Risa becomes paralyzed and a beam falls on her back and shatters her spine.
6. How did the story make you feel? It was a great story. I really enjoyed it. I finished it in five days.
7. What lessons did you learn from this story? The value of human life is more important than anything.
8. Who do you think would like this book? Anybody who likes science fiction or dystopian novels will like UNWIND. Both girls and boys will like it. I’m reading the sequel UNWHOLLY, and I’m really liking it.
Son's Rating: ★★★★½
What it’s about: Set in a post-war society that is the result of a disturbing compromise over the issue of abortion, UNWIND explores the value of human life in all its stages. While the society has outlawed abortion, to appease those who supported it, it is now legal to “unwind” a teenager who proves to be too difficult to raise or without enough merit to warrant the effort. Some parents “unwind” their children as tithe, or religious offering. Society claims that since all organs and body parts continue to live within the bodies of other people, the children are not really dead. Therefore the morality of being unwound is never questioned, until now.
My thoughts: UNWIND is riveting. By the time I reached the middle of the book, I simply could not put it down. That is rare for me. I am a slow reader, but I stayed up one night until nearly 2 am so I could finish it. Neil Schusterman’s writing is straight forward and fast paced. The characters and the suspenseful plot drive the story along. One chapter near the end was so deliciously disturbing and creepy I thought about it for days afterwards. This is an equally great read for both boys and girls. But as an adult, I absolutely loved it and am eager to read some of Schusterman’s many other titles.
My bottom line: UNWIND is one of the most memorable dystopian novels I have read in the past couple of years. The story compels the reader to question the moral implications of any practice that destroys human life without taking any sort of obvious political stand. It makes readers think for themselves. I am anxious to read the sequel, UNWHOLLY, which came out in 2012.
Mom's Rating: ★★★★☆
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