Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman (#72 on NPR Top 100 Teen Books List)

Imagine a world where the debate between those pro-life and those pro-choice turned into a vicious war. Now imagine that the only conclusion that could be reached to end the war was to ban abortion, but with a terrible twist. Pregnancy could no longer be terminated, but when your child is aged between thirteen and eighteen you would be able to retroactively abort them by sending them to be “unwound”. The process of unwinding involves the dismantling of all of the parts of a human so they can be used in transplants. So that it’s “ethical”, every single part has to be used, and the teen being unwound must be awake for the entire process. It is believed that unwinding does not cause death, because the consciousness exists in the scattered parts. 

Connor is sixteen and has been in and out of trouble his whole life. When he discovers his parents have signed the order for him to be unwound, he decides to run away.

Risa has been raised in a state home, and there are too many children in the system. When she cannot prove she has a talent worthy to the state, it is decided that she must be sent to a harvest camp, and unwound.

Lev is a tithe. The tenth of the children in his family, he has always known that at the age of thirteen he would be a sacrifice from his family to God. Lev believes his unwinding is his duty, and for the good of humanity. 

In a twist of fate, the three teenagers get caught up and find themselves on the run together. 

Will they be able to escape the juvey-cops? Can they stay safe until their eighteenth birthdays? What exactly is the Graveyard? How does Humphrey Dunfey fit into everything? And how will they manage to change the world’s thoughts about unwinding forever? 

Unwind is a gripping book that keeps you guessing until the very end. Each chapter is told from a different perspective, so a full spectrum of opinions is gained. Even at the close of the novel, I found myself not entirely sure which side I was on. Both sides present convincing cases about the futuristic society, and how they are able, or should be able, to survive.

Unwind is one of the more realistic dystopian novels that I have read, with it’s comments on humanity creepily believable. It’s a long read, but I found it was easy to digest and thoroughly enjoyable 

A sequel to Unwind, UnWholly, has recently been released, and it is definitely one I will be reading soon. 

Rating: 4/5

frangipani princess xoxo

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