Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Book: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Published by: Simon & Schuster, November 2007

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover 335 pages

Format read/Source: Audiobook from library

Date read: March 5 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

My Thoughts:

UNWIND is one of the more powerful and disturbing dystopian novels I have read. Many other dystopian books have tackled the theme of reproduction rights, but this book takes it even further, and also poses thought provoking questions regarding population control, organ donation, morality, and religion. The idea is that in the future abortion is illegal, but a parent can choose to “unwind” their child between the ages of 13-18. The “unwinds” have all their body parts harvested and donated. There are so many unwind-body parts available that most surgeons just choose to do organ replacements rather than trying to fix an existing organ.

There are a few reasons why a parent may choose to unwind their child, and we follow the lives of three such characters in the book. First, Connor is somewhat of a troublemaker at school and his parents have given up on him. He finds his unwind paperwork and decides to go AWOL to avoid the harvest camp. Next, Risa has grown up in a state-run orphanage. She is well behaved, however her talents as a musician are unexceptional. The state budget simply does not have the money to keep everyone. Finally, Lev, is the tenth child in his family, and for religious reasons was raised to be a tithe.  Lev has grown up all his life with the realization that he was born to fulfill his destiny as an unwind. On their way to harvest camp, the three teens find themselves thrust together as they try to survive.

The characters go on a dangerous journey to try to avoid being unwound. If they can stay hidden until they turn eighteen, they are safe. On their adventures we meet other kids who have gone AWOL. The burden of running and hiding has caused the teens to be mistrustful of one another, and different faction’s and bullying behavior develop. With many lives at stake, tensions run high.

This story gripped me with the first pages. The story is chilling and provides a lot of food for thought. The characters are strong and sympathetic, fully formed beings. The story is told in multiple points of view, and I liked reading each character’s perspective. The book is fast paced and delivers a thrilling and horrifying story.

I listened to the book in audiobook format. The reader does an excellent job of portraying the different character’s voices and conveying the appropriate mood of the story. Some of the scenes are very difficult to read and made my stomach churn as I was listening to the story.

The book has a satisfying ending on it’s own, but also leaves itself open for a sequel down the line. This is the first book I have read by this author, but I am intrigued to read more. Recommended for mature readers and dystopian fans. UNWIND is a book you won’t soon forget.

For more information:

Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s website


6 thoughts on “Unwind by Neal Shusterman

  1. I have this book on my list of books to read. I have found lately that I have been loving any book that is dystopian. Loved your review, I will have to move this one up on my list. Have you read delirium yet? That is another good one.

  2. There are a lot of dystopian books coming out this year. I have been reading a lot of them lately too. Hope you like Unwind. Good choice – Delirium is one of my favorites!

  3. Melissa says:

    This one is sitting on my nightstand! I love dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction. (I actually just did a readalike list for The Hunger Games at work and discovered EVEN more books that I want to read…I’m in trouble.)

  4. […] Unwind by Neal Shusterman (thereadingdate.wordpress.com) […]

  5. […] Unwind by Neal Shusterman is one that I had on my radar for a while. It’s a fantastic audiobook too. […]

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