Jul 30, 2012

Unwind by Neal Shusterman review

Unwind cover
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.

From Goodreads 

I've been going back over some of my favorite books of late (scouring for new Nostalgic Friday ideas) & stumbled upon this gem. Honestly, I thought to myself "I must have already reviewed that since it was so epic." Behold the fog trap that is my memory. Somehow this wondrous book escaped being reviewed in 2010, when I read it. My apologies dearest readers. :) 

Unwind tells a story of a near future world where children can be "unwound" between the ages of 13 & 18. For those 5 years, many children are walking on eggshells, just trying to survive. Connor (a misfit labeled a "troublemaker"), Risa (a ward of the state), & Lev (a tithe ~ a child from a religious family, born to be unwound) find themselves in a fight for survival. Connor & Risa are running voluntarily, while Lev doesn't understand. He's been preparing to be unwound his whole life, it is his purpose & his destiny.

But when these three wind up at the Happy Jack Harvest Camp, a "happy place" where the kids are monitored for health & encouraged to better themselves until their body parts are required by others, they find out that none of what any of them believed is true. Now their real fight begins.

I absolutely adored this book! Neal Shusterman's writing absolutely engulfed me. To stop reading was like resurfacing from being under water. The setting & characterization alone make this book worth reading, but the story it tells is what really makes it memorable. This was one of the first non-apocalyptic dystopian fiction books I ever read. For that fact alone do I give most similar books a chance. I read this on a suggestion from a colleague & when I was done it immediately went into the "recommend to middle schoolers" pile.

For a middle grades book, Unwind deals with some heavy topics in an age appropriate manner. Now that's not to say that the book is censored or that young adults & even adults wouldn't like it, but by making the book's audience more wide open I think the author has given us a great opening for frank discussion. I don't think I have ever seen anything quite as spectacular as watching the audience as I read the passage detailing the Second Civil War over reproductive rights. 

Truly a work of art, Unwind is a book that I will cherish for the rest of my days reading middle grades & young adult books. I would honestly liken it to being today's The Giver

Thoughts, comments? Come on, I know you're thinking something... :D

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