Unwind by Neal Shusterman


My book club chose this book for our October read.  While everyone enjoyed it for the most part, we all agreed that there were some world-building issues.

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.

Out of the three main characters, I think I connected best with Risa.  She’s a girl, she plays piano, and she’s smart and cautious, like me.  I did connect a bit with Connor as well, though, since he wants to fight the injustices of the world.  I’d like to think I’d be a bit like him if I were put in his situation.  I didn’t really connect with Lev at all, though.  He was very religious in the beginning of the book and became very jaded and anti-establishment by the end of the book.  I just didn’t relate to him very well.

The three main characters were featured the most in this book, but there were also other points of view sprinkled throughout.  Most of them only appeared once or twice, though.  I think that it was necessary to include these random POVs because their insight was needed to show what was happening when the main characters weren’t around.  At first it felt weird that there were so many POVs, but I got used to it pretty quickly.

The world this book took place in was pretty disturbing.  For example, people had to pay for a new body part and the quality of that body part depended on how much money you could afford to pay.  I think the most disturbing thing in this book, though, was the fact that the kids being unwound had to stay conscious and aware the whole time they were being taken apart piece by piece.

I had a lot of questions about the world this book takes place in.  For example, people could leave their baby on a stranger’s doorstep if they didn’t want it and the stranger would have to take in the baby.  They called this storking.  But what if the family was poor and couldn’t afford another child?  What if the baby was left on an elderly couple’s doorstep?  I just didn’t think storking sounded plausible or realistic.

There were several errors in this book, as well.  For example, on page 66, there’s a sentence that reads, “She looks to where Lev was sitting, but he’s moved a seat ahead and is talking to boy sitting next to him.”  It should read “talking to A boy” or “talking to THE boy.”  This is just one of many small errors I found in this book.

I went into this book thinking it would be about the Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice debate and would give me a lot of food for thought about it.  However, this book barely talked about abortion at all.  It was set in a world where the solution to this debate was unwinding children.  But because the war had already taken place, there weren’t many places to talk about it since all of the talking and debating had already been done in the past.  In fact, this book was so far removed from the abortion debate that it didn’t even talk about it at all.  I think if the author’s aim was to talk about that debate, he missed the mark completely.

I’m going to give this book three stars because I enjoyed this book while I was reading it, but whenever I stopped to think about the world-building, I began to question what I was reading and the plausibility of it.




“One thing you learn when you’ve lived as long as I have – people aren’t all good, and people aren’t all bad.  We move in and out of darkness and light all of our lives.  Right now, I’m pleased to be in the light.”

– Pg, 111

But keeping his head down does not keep him in the safe zone.  Emby is, in fact, the central bumper on the pinball board, and every single ball in play is about to rebound off of him.

– Pg. 238

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