Unwind by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Connor Lassiter is an AWOL Unwind. In a society that has eliminated abortion, they have a new solution to the problem of unwanted children. At the age of thirteen a child’s parents have the option of having their teen unwound. With unwinding, a child doesn’t die because all of the parts of him or her are harvested and used in other people. Connor wanted to keep his parts to himself, and decided the best way to do that was to escape.
Risa Ward grew up in Ohio State Home 23. As a ward of the state she knew she had to be exceptional in her chosen vocation. Who knew five small mistakes in a musical recital would have her on a bus to Harvest camp where she would be unwound.
Lev always knew his purpose. He was one of God’s chosen, and was willingly giving himself to God. Lev is his parent’s tithe of 1/10. They have 10 children and Lev is going to be their tithe to God. He planned to fulfill his role dutifully, until the freeway accident that killed a State Home bus driver led an AWOL unwind and a crazy state home girl to kidnap him for their escape. Who knew that those grand plans could change in an instant?
They are three teens on the run to keep themselves whole in a world that only wants them for their parts.
Unwind by Shusterman was an interesting read. As a parent myself, I can’t believe that parents would willingly unwind their children, so the concept of unwinding is difficult for me. Once I got past that aspect of the story, it is interesting to see the society that Conner, Risa, and Lev live in. In the beginning, you have difficulty liking Connor. You can understand his reasoning for getting away, but you can’t understand why he did the things he did that got his parents to sign the unwind order. Risa is a more sympathetic narrator. Nothing she did has gotten her into this situation—she tried to be perfect, but perfection isn’t something that comes easily to humans. Lev’s ideas were the most foreign to me, I had difficulty understanding why a child would willingly become an unwind, but Lev has had his whole life to prepare. He knows his purpose in life.
This novel is shocking, violent, alarming, and thought provoking. You keep wondering throughout the novel, how did this world get so messed up that something like unwinding would become an acceptable solution? These characters and their stories are well developed. You can’t help feeling the urgency they feel and the betrayal.
Cautions for sensitive readers: There is quite a bit of violence in this book and what might be considered a graphic surgical scene. There is mild language, but no sex.
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