Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year: Simon and Schuster 6/9/09
Length: 343 Pages
Series: Unwind Dystology #1
The first twisted and futuristic novel in the perennially popular New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman.
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 breathtaking 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 complex moral issues that will keep readers turning the pages until the very end.
I didn’t necessarily know what to expect from this story but i think that it takes us on an interesting journey. Like the summary says, we’re in a time where society has to instill all these rules on value of life and how to manage for over population, need for transplants, and a way to maintain order. The solution that they’ve created is a process known as Unwinding where a child’s body is dismantled bit by bit so that every part is then used to help someone else.
We follow the journey here with Connor, Risa and Lev (among others) as they find themselves being Unwound for various reasons. At times they become allies, other times they are enemies, and it’s a question of survival and finding out how to outlive and outsmart folks until they turn 18 and can no longer be Unwound.
Connor has been sent to his demise because his parents don’t know how to handle him as he’s a bit rough around the edges. on top of that, his family has been storked 2x, meaning that someone’s left a baby on their doorstep twice so they have their hands full. Risa is a ward of the state as she doesn’t know who her parents are and when you get to a certain age as a ward, if you’re deemed to be ‘average’ then you’re sent to be Unwound as they don’t have room and resources to maintain quality of life for anyone who’s not excellent. Then there’s Lev – who comes from a family of money and religion. They have a believe that they are to offer up a child as a tithe in a means to show their gratitude towards God. this is the role that Lev plays as he buys into that since birth.
Where things change is when Connor runs way, Risa escapes and Lev gets kidnapped. The journey from there is one of survival, trust, and understanding what the right side of the fight is.
Relationships are developed, romances bloom and allies are formed and broken. It’s through a series of events that we get to see a final resting place of sorts, where things are not at all what they seem. Connor gets esteem and respect (or fear) from all of the other unwinds that they come across. Risa finds her spot in medical care and Lev is a wild card. Where they go from the Graveyard and beyond is what makes this story interesting since you don’t quite know what’s going to happen next and who will survive. We see a lot of death, we see the process of being unwound and i have to say that my stomach was turned a bit.
Where we are left in this story is a place that’s quite pivotal. Great change seems to be coming for these folks and for society, but i’m not quite sure in what form. There’s a lot of unknowns here and i think that’s what makes this interesting.
The one thing that trips me up with this series is that it’s an angle that’s a bit different. which i like but i think that there’s a bit of lack in depth to the foundation to truly get to the crux of it. I feel like we got the backstory quickly of what got to the societal situation that they are in, but i’m not sure that i understand it to really understand what’s right or wrong. In any event, the good thing here is that i have the rest of the series in my library so i’ll quickly be able to determine what’s good and not. Enjoy!