By: Neal Shusterman
# of pages: 353
Series: Unwind (#1)
Challenges: A to Z
Quote: “Please what? the teacher thinks. Please break the law? Please put myself and the school at risk? But, no, that’s not it at all. What he’s really saying is: Please be a human being. With a life so full of rules and regiments, it’s so easy to forget that’s what they are. She knows—she sees—how often compassion takes a back seat to expediency.”
In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them.
Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.
My opinion: I don’t even know where to begin with this book review. Let me start by saying bear with me and also, while your opinion is probably fine to leave in comments, no arguments or rudeness will be allowed.
I didn’t know this book was going to be so thought provoking. The story follows three teenagers as they runaway from their homes, family, and friends in order to stay alive. Connor’s parents decided to unwind (his body taken apart and given to people in need of a donor part without dying) him because of the problems and embarrassment he causes them. The decision was made to unwind Risa because the government doesn’t have enough money to help all of the orphans in state care. Lev’s parents made the choice to unwind him before they even conceived him because their religion smiles upon “tithing.”
At first I was incredulous about a system like this ever being a reality. But the more I read the more I saw a connection between unwinding and abortion. And maybe there was a time people would have been horrified to think of abortion clinics and the fact that abortion has become something fairly commonplace, not just something done in extreme situations.
My political leanings are fairly liberal when it comes to abortion, but it’s never a choice I’d personally make after having been pregnant. I don’t feel overly strong about the issue, but honestly I don’t think about it too much. This book made me think of it though. And I just wonder……… the kids in the book were so adamant that their bodies belonged to themselves and that they deserved to live. Their parents shouldn’t make that choice for them, the government shouldn’t make that choice, religion shouldn’t make that choice. And while of course in our present time we can say that women should have a choice with their bodies and their lives….. but there are lives inside them that would eventually be walking, talking, thinking humans….. Do they (the living matter/cells/embryo/baby inside the women) have the right to live and be who they can be no matter what other people do or think or say?
I’m not tying the situation in the book with abortion solely on my own. The backstory of the book discusses a war that took place that revolved around abortion. Unwinding takes the place of abortion and is justified because it technically isn’t killing the person’s body, they stay alive even while being dismembered. However, they don’t feel pain, so once again, it’s justified.
Which also made me think a lot about war. Before reading this book, I was thinking about the traditional patriarchal societies throughout history and how perhaps that’s why we’ve had as much war as we’ve experience throughout history. I wondered how a matriarchal society would have handled conflict throughout the ages. And I wondered if having more compromising leaders would have changed conflicts and perhaps led to other outcomes other than physical violence. But this book explores the idea that there was a compromise that ended a war, but perhaps it was still just as violent. I just thought it was interesting to read about a nationwide conflict resolution after thinking so much about it.
Overall, the book was an interesting read with unique characters and situations. It was a little disturbing at times as you can imagine, but it’s not terribly graphic. I’d recommend this to older teens and adults who enjoy YA fiction/sci-fi. There’s more books in the series, but I think I’m happy with leaving it off with the first book. It was a satisfying ending and I don’t feel overly curious to know what happens next.
Why I gave this book 4/5 stars: Good pacing, interesting characters, unique story, a little disturbing at times, skipped over some development later in the novel.