Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Reviewed by Maggie: August 31, 2012
Published: November 6, 2007
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Goodreads • Buy at AmazonKindleBook Depository

Over dinner last week, I tried to explain the plot of Unwind to my friend Amy, a nurse.

So there was a civil war over reproductive rights.
And to end the war, both sides agreed that there would be no more abortion.
Got it.
But then parents can decide to have their kids unwound at the age of 13.
Wait, what?
The technology exists so that every part of the child would go to another person.
How the...?
Including their skin, major and minor organs, etc.
A lot of kids whose parents have signed their unwind order run away.
Go back to the part about abortion being illegal but killing grown kids isn't.
Why are you asking a perfectly valid question? So anyway...

I don't blame her. The concept of Unwind requires a suspension of disbelief, but I think that's also what makes it successful. If there's one issue that can turn seemingly normal, rational people into fucking lunatics, it's abortion. Abortion in rape cases? No, because legitimate rape doesn't lead to pregnancy. Lunacy. Discussing abortion outright is like staring straight into the sun. It won't go well. However, this dystopian future created by Neal Shusterman provides the perfect filter to discuss abortion and other topics.

I really enjoyed Unwind. Despite being an "issue" book, the issues don't take precedence over the story. I didn't stay up til 5am after driving from San Diego because of some pro-life or pro-choice message. I stayed up because I wanted to know what happened to Connor, Risa, and Lev. This is a suspenseful thriller about survival and, ultimately, children's rights. I think teens would love this book because the story deals with the powerlessness of being under 18. Parents, regardless of their own shortcomings, can choose a child's fate. Some seal their kids' fates by raising them in a belief system that requires them to sacrifice themselves. I thought my mom trying to get me to give 10% of my high school paycheck to the church was bad. Tithing in Unwind... much worse.

I love that this book made me think about organ transplants, adoption, life, death, Roe, Wade, all while I was biting off my nails because I was worried about the characters. Is someone going to sell out Connor and Risa? Where is Lev?? Unwind is a story that made me glad it wasn't plausible because the depiction of human nature was. It was a compelling, fascinating read, one that I'm glad I didn't read earlier because the wait for the sequel would've driven me out of my mind -- more so than Megan Whalen Turner already has. I'm ending this review now so I can finally get to UnWholly.

Note on the audiobook: I listened to the first half of the book on audiobook and the narrator was fantastic. I especially liked his interpretation of CyFy, who could've easily been a confusing character but wasn't.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.


  1. This is on my too read list, and I just have no idea what to expect. On one hand, I just love a good dystopian. On the other, that is some serious suspension of disbelief that is required.

  2. Wonderful review, Maggie! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! :) It really made me think about so many different subjects and it's amazing that it managed to tackle on such controversial issues! I'm waiting for UnWholly to come so I can read it too! :D

    Ivy Book Bindings

  3. I've been wondering if I should read this book and now you have me wanting to know what happens to these kids and I agree it's a horrible idea and I am so glad this is not something that could actually happen... right?

    Awesome review, Magz!

  4. Love the review, Maggie. I guess I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough, although I COMPLETELY agree with you about the abortion debate and sanity and how one tends to flee the area whenever the other is discussed...ugh.

    Did you see this the other night? (Not sure if html works here.)

  5. Amazing review, Mags. I love love love this review and this book. I didn't think I'd like it but the lovely Flann was like 'Bitch, read it'.

    I can't WAIT for Unwholly. Eeeeeeeh.
    I hope it's brilliant.


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