Review: Dry by Neal Shusterman

Title: Dry
Author:  Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year:  Simon & Shuster Publishing 11/23/18
Length:   400 Pages


When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

My Thoughts

I needed a change of pace for a bit and we all know that i’m a huge fan of dystopia, post-apocolyptic etc. so this fell right into my sweet spot. For those of you who follow what i’m reading on Goodreads, you’ll see that this has taken me FAR too long to read and that’s not a result of the book itself, but just that i haven’t been able to focus. This week though, i turned the corner and really invested my time in reading this story and i’m happy that i did.

It’s interesting how reading stories like this hit so close to home, especially since in this case especially it’s based on a scenario that’s so real and quite likely to happen if we don’t do something about consumption management now.

We find ourselves in Southern California, where the water/drought situation is so bad that neighboring states are now closing off waterways to Cali because those states are desperate as well. No one truly knows what the impact of all this will be but we quickly learn that water really is the one thing that keeps people sane and alive and without it, it’s an eat or be eaten mentality for society.

The nice way that this story is written is that we have chapters that alternate through our character’s POVs. not just two main characters, but essentially everyone that we meet. I personally enjoyed this because this is a situation that impacts different people in unique ways and seeing how it can either tear people apart or bring them together based on what they are living and feeling brings much more depth to the story.

Add to that, a variety of adjacent scenes that are happening throughout the similar surrounding areas for people who aren’t connected to our mains, and we get a really detailed and complex picture of what’s going on.

I really enjoyed how our main characters are all teens and maybe younger than teens, and even though they are faced with a situation that typically forces them to grow up quickly, they still remain acting as ‘kids’. We see some take leader roles etc, but they still act, talk and seem like kids and that’s refreshing. There are a few who take on personas that are not themselves and that comes to bite them in the end, but i think that it’s all realistic and natural.

There’s a great flow to this story – we see the initial shock and disbelief to what’s happening in the state, even though everyone knew that water was running scarce and that rationing wasn’t working. I feel like if/when this happens in reality, the exact same reactions will happen and things will sadly play out in a similar way. No one believes that things like this will happen to them, and no one prepares. (except for that one weird family down the street).

There are moments when we have hope – knowing that there is someone with survival skills around, knowing that there’s a Plan B to keep us moving towards. then there are moments of dispair when parents go missing, when the adults rebel and when they take for granted the fact that kids are more innocent and can just get things done. There’s the arc of fear and desperation when disease becomes widespread, when government doesn’t help, when hope is lost because a series of events happen to throw them off course.

The roller coaster in this story is wild and i think that if you take the time to enjoy this story – you’ll agree with that notion. I don’t know that i loved the way that this story ended – i think that it did part of the plot justice but then it did a bit of a disservice when the closure in some places seemed too easy. That’s just me though – i’m cynical and jaded and sometimes wish that things couldn’t all be wrapped in a pretty bow.

On that note – i really enjoyed this book and i’m glad that i finally just put my head down to finish it. well worth it. Enjoy!

Review: UnBound (Stories from the Unwind World) by Neal Shusterman


Title: UnBound
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year:  Simon & Schuster 12/15/15
Length:   320 Pages
Series:  Unwind Dystology #5


Find out what happens to Connor, Risa, and Lev now that they’ve finally destroyed the Proactive Citizenry in this collection of short stories set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman.

Connor Lassiter’s fight to bring down Proactive Citizenry and find a suitable alternative to unwinding concluded in UnDivided. Now Connor, Risa, and Lev are free to live in a peaceful future—or are they? Neal Shusterman brings back his beloved Unwind characters for his fans to see what’s left for those who were destined to be unwound.

My Thoughts

This was an interesting way to complete the series – giving us a glimpse into the future for some of the characters that we’ve spent a lot of time with, while also getting the back story on how a few of the folks came to be sent to be unwound etc.

there are a series of stories, all a few chapters each where we get to see the things that happened in succession for different things to happen.  We learned how Risa found herself on the unwind list, even though we learned that she wasn’t meant to be.  We also get to see how Divan spends the rest of his life (or not).

There are a few interesting turn of events here, and some insights that we get to see that we never really even got to think about.  What goes on with the Burmese – and what the real fear is there.  We see that Grace really has come into her own.

If you were curious about what was going to happen to Cam/Una and the rest of the Rewinds, well, you’ll get it here.  I can’t say that i’m surprised at what happens on their Hawaiian island, and i had my own thoughts as to the origin of a few of the folks, but we never get that far into it.

Regardless, a nice way to tie up the series – and i think that it was fairly creative to see that Mr Shusterman was able to come up with this culmination of stories.

Review: Undivided (Unwind Dystology #4) by Neal Shusterman


Title: UnDivided
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year:  Simon & Schuster 11/1/0/15
Length:   389 Pages
Series:  Unwind Dystology #4


Teens control the fate of America in the fourth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman that Horn Book Magazine calls “ambitious, insightful, and devastating—a fitting conclusion to a provocative series.”

Proactive Citizenry, the company that created Cam from the parts of unwound teens, has a plan: to mass produce rewound teens like Cam for military purposes. And below the surface of that horror lies another shocking level of intrigue: Proactive Citizenry has been suppressing technology that could make unwinding completely unnecessary. As Conner, Risa, and Lev uncover these startling secrets, enraged teens begin to march on Washington to demand justice and a better future.

But more trouble is brewing. Starkey’s group of storked teens is growing more powerful and militant with each new recruit. And if they have their way, they’ll burn the harvest camps to the ground and put every adult in them before a firing squad—which could destroy any chance America has for a peaceful future.

My Thoughts

We’ve been with this series for some time now, with so much going on with each of the characters, that personally i was interested most in seeing how everything was going to end, and how they were potentially going to intertwine.  What we get is a really nicely done ending and conclusion of this saga that leaves no question as to who’s alive and not, who’s seeing success and who’s together with their fated person.

As you recall from the past several books, we get each chapter in another person’s POV and that continues here.  What it gives us is an opportunity to think about what’s going to happen next to our favorites since EVERYONE is tied to one another.  It’s amazing to be frank.

We see Connor and Risa having found Sonia and trying to figure out what the secret technology was that her husband created, and how they can bring it to the world to hopefully end unwinding.  We see that Grace is still the idiot savante and continues to give us some of the most amazing ideas when no one else thinks clearly.  Then there’s Cam, the other part of the love triangle, who’s been taken back into the hands of PC, and his mind has been altered so that he can’t think of Risa at all.

Lev continues to baffle me.  One never knows exactly what his story is going to be, but i think that where we see it go is a place that makes everyone proud.  he’s trying to do right by the boy that befriended him on the Rez, all the while trying to forward Connor’s goal.

Starkey – well what to say about him.  he’s the one that continues to gain power, but what he’s not smart enough to know or think about is who is behind this power that’s being given to him and what’s the true end game.

Throughout this story, we have a lot of people playing sides, and wondering if they are truly playing the side that they are on.  I think that’s one of the interesting bits of this – because we see that allegiances are made out of necessity but where they evolve to from there becomes the true hook to the story.

What’s hard for me to digest here is what the government and PC are doing – they are putting all this advertising or propaganda out there to the public to get them to buy into the tech that they have for unwinding.  All of course to help their bottom line, but if you think about how easily it seems that they’re able to convince the public that it’s what they want – that makes you wonder for our own society if things like that are really likely to happen, and i think that it’s probably a big yes.  sad right?

There’s a nice lesson here in this story – trust, friendship and love.  Where we see success come through at all is when the right people create bonds of trust and friendship and work together to make change.  They’ve said over and over that one person or one thing cannot overcome what’s going on, but instead if they work together for progress, then things will happen.  That’s the sentiment that we carry through this book, and for those who are able to actually buy into that, well, those are the ones that we remember when it all ends.

All in all a really great series, and i’m glad that i found it.  I feel like our author – Mr Shustermann had a really great task ahead of him with this story, but the way that it was organized and the flow of it all really kept things incredibly interesting and now i need to find something else to fill this gap that i have now that i’m done.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!


Review: UnSouled (Unwind Dystology #3) by Neal Shusterman


Title: UnSouled
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year:  Simon & Schuster 10/14/14
Length:   401Pages
Series:  Unwind Dystology #3


Teens fight for their humanity in this thrilling third book in the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman.

Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running towards answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to ending the unwinding process forever.

Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. He knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human.

With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, their paths will converge explosively—and everyone will be changed.

My Thoughts

The saga continues and it’s a wonder how our author was able to come up with the complexities that we’re facing.  If you’ll remember at the end of the last installment, Connor had made a discovery that there was far more to the initial story than anyone knew, and he was going to get to the bottom of it.   that’s basically where we are taken through this 3rd book – figuring out how to get to the core of the technology and then figuring out what to do from there.

Like the previous book, we are taken through chapters by various characters – understanding what they are going through at any given point in time, while also getting the backstory and flashback from the Rheinschilds – the creators of the tech for both unwinding and something that was earth changing post that bit which never came to fruition.

The Graveyard has been compromised even more so than anyone thought possible, and what was thought to be an opportunity to make a planned departure turns into a blood bath and a flight.  Starkey takes control over things, and you know that’s going to end poorly given that he has a very different view on what it is to be a hero.  He likes death and destruction, and be warned that there is plenty of that to come after him.

We get to see how Cam grows and develops now that he’s being thrust into the public eye as not just an example of what the tech can do, but as an example by Proactive Citizenry of what THEY can do.  Along with that, he gets his wish for Risa to be beside him, which as you can imagine comes with a lot of stress given that she’s forced into a situation that she’s not happy with and that she despises.  Where she goes from there will be a place that only time will tell.

Then there’s Lev – he’s alive – barely, and is in the care of his brother since he’s on house arrest.  That’s too easy though, and others come after him, some bad and some good – and his life then becomes a roller coaster – getting reunited with old friends, some of whom are still on his side and some of whom would rather he be dead.  He’s put in a position to lead a ‘cult’ of sorts, and when that doesn’t sit well with him, you can only imagine the shenanigans that ensue afterwards.

All in all, there’s a LOT going on. the realization that Proactive Citizenry is behind everything comes as a shock.  Then there’s the issue of what are they doing next now that Cam has been deemed a success and what will that mean for the future of mankind.

Cam, Connor, Lev and Risa are all on the run again trying to figure out how to make the world ‘whole’ again – and then there’s the wild card of Grace that’s been thrown into the mix.  She’s typically counted out since she’s deemed to be a bit stunted in the intelligence area, but she’s proven to be quite strategic and i think that she’s going to be a key in the next installment.

I guess the questions that we have remaining are who’s going to stay alive, and what is going to happen with all the technology tied to Unwinding and what ever it was that Sonia and her husband had worked on.  I think that it’ll be really interesting to see what comes of it all since it means a very different future for all teens.  Then there’s also the question of the love triangle that’s out there so i hope that we get a resolution of sorts when Connor/Cam/Risa deal sort itself out.  On that note – have a good day all and i’ll be back!

Review: Unwholly (Unwind Trilogy #2) by Neal Shusterman


Title: Unwholly
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year:  Simon & Schuster 10/15/13
Length:   406 Pages
Series:  Unwind Trilogy #2


Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwindchallenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed organs for transplanting might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds; he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles to find identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

My Thoughts

This is an interesting series – where you’re not quite sure where you going to find another twist and turn to get through.  What’s really interesting about this series is that there’s so much alluding to history here, that it takes us back to fully get a documentation of how things came to pass which makes it seem so much more real.  That’s something that we do’t often get in stories like this.

Throughout this 2nd installment, we are being told the story through a different vantage point in each chapter.  We get a new character telling us about what’s going on in their lives at that moment and it weaves into a much more complex story.

Connor and Risa are at the Graveyard – trying to make things continue as they are, but when newcomers come to the group, the dynamic gets tense.  On top of that, there are things that Connor learns along the way to make him question why they are able to be there without being bothered, yet why they aren’t getting the help that they were promised.  Risa on the other hand has learned to cope with being in a wheelchair but what she hasn’t been able to cope with is that connor doesn’t seem to have the time for her anymore.

Then there’s Lev – he’s definitely an interesting fellow – the journey that he’s been on and where he finds himself in this installment is no different in the interesting factor.  He is shuffled from locale to locale, revered and then hated – so you kind of have to feel bad for the guy, especially when you remember that he’s 14 years old.

Then there’s the introduction of Cam – a boy made entirely of unwinds – with all the best parts of the best candidates, and it’s really interesting to see what that makes him into and what the world’s reaction is of him.  it’s not good – know that.

As i said, each chapter is from the view point of someone else, so there are quite a few people that i haven’t mentioned.  They are the ones that bring even more uncertainty to everyone that we know, and even those that we’re not sure of yet.

Where we net out at the end of this 2nd full book is that they are looking for a specific man, one who’s identity seems to have been wiped out, but one who clearly had a huge hand in the world that they live in.  With that, Connor and Lev set out to really find out what happened and where things went wrong in the hopes of getting society back to where it should be – happy and safe for everyone.  So….onto the finale!

Review: Unstrung (UnWind Trilogy #1.5) by Neal Shusterman


Title: Unstrung
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year:  Simon & Schuster 7/24/12
Length:   80 Pages
Series:  Unwind Trilogy #1.5


How did Lev Calder move from an unwillingly escaped Tithe to a clapper? In this revealing short story, Neal Shusterman opens a window on Lev’s adventures between the time he left CyFi and showed up at the Graveyard.

My Thoughts

So – i was quite interested to understand how Lev became a clapper, but i really don’t think that’s what we get in this novella.  Where we are is that we see Lev finding himself on an Indian reservation – a place that potentially will give him solace and freedom from being an AWOL – but that still doesn’t lead me to understand how he became a clapper persay.  What we do get though is a new perspective on life during this time, among a people who value family and culture and history more than anything else, and that’s something that’s quite interesting.

Not much else to say – felt more like a side story than an explanation, but i guess it’ll all come together some how in the coming installments.

Review: Unwind (Unwind Dystology #1) by Neal Shusterman


Title: Unwind
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.

My Thoughts

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!