Unwind by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Source: I borrowed a copy of this book.)
16-year-old Connor is destined to be unwound. What’s that? Well following a pro-life/pro-choice war, the government passed a new law – abortions are illegal, children are protected ‘til age 13, but between the ages of 13 and 18 a child can be ‘unwound’ – taken to pieces and re-used in other people. This means that no child actually dies – their constituent parts live on. Yeah right! Tell that to the poor kids being unwound!
Connor messed up a bit when he was younger, Risa was a ward of the state – and there were budget cuts, and Lev was a tithe (his parents were unwinding him as a way to give back to god/ humanity!).
Irrespective of their reasons for being unwound, all three find themselves on the run, and thrown together through circumstance. Finding themselves in unusual circumstances and strange places along the way, they grow in ways they never would have otherwise, and question what being alive or having a soul is really about. But when it comes to the chop, which is worse; to die, or to be unwound?
Wow! That is one of the first things that comes to mind with this book. I absolutely could not put it down, and when I did put it down I couldn’t stop thinking about it!
The book has an eerie dystopian setting, which is unsettling in the way that the reasons for the changes in society are ultimately understandable! Which is very scary! The idea of unwinding is sickening, whilst at the same time makes a disgusting sort of sense. Why abort a child that you can allow to grow up, and then harvest for parts? Parts that are desperately needed! And what an interesting argument – if all the parts live on, then has the child really died?
There are loads of questions like this posed in the book; with tricky subjects such as life and death, the human soul, and religion all touched upon. It is truly an emotional experience to get an insight into each childs life and viewpoint, and to see how they view the idea of their own unwinding, and ultimately their own death. It is also interesting to see how much each child is willing to fight to preserve their life, and really does make for an absorbing read.
I have to say that at times I did feel physically sick though – especially the chapter where we follow a child through the operation to be unwound (the child is conscious throughout), especially given the fact that we are told that this child is taken to pieces and ultimately redistributed in just 3 hours 19 minutes. How wrong that an entire life can be disassembled into constituent parts and ultimately ended, in such a clinical fashion, in a little over three hours.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, and the ideas that it provoked, (even the sickening ones) and I think anyone with an interest in young-adult, dystopian stories will really enjoy this.
9 out of 10.
View all my reviews