Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: November 6th 2007
Pages: 335 (Hardcover)
Series: Unwind Dystology #1
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life – not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.
That, my friends, is a name I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot lately.
Over and over again, on youtube, on goodreads, and on blogs, there it was.
I noticed it, of course (so much raving), but at first, I completely dismissed it. For some unexplainable reason, I was certain it wasn’t anything for me.
But then, as things often do, it managed to spark my interest somehow. I don’t know when or why, but one day, I just decided to try it out.
Shortly after that, I found myself wandering about the library, and there it was, right before my eyes. That name. Neal Shusterman. I had probably read it a million times, I might have even pulled out one or two books of his before, but this time, I didn’t put it back.
There are some books that I can honestly say that I probably never would have decided to pick up without the book community on the internet. We have Leviathan and The Book Thief (both favourites of mine) to only mention a few, and now I can happily add Unwind to that list. It was, safe to say, absolutely amazing.
First of all, the writing in this book is beautiful, and that combined with the insanely intriguing premise must be a winning concept, because I barely got past the first few pages before I was completely captivated. I was enchanted by Shusterman’s pretty, yet ugly, words, and I knew I was in love the moment he made me cry for a character I’d only known for one chapter.
Unwind is told in third person, and alternates between a few different PoVs. Sometimes it’s a minor character, a police or a teacher (and once even a building), but most of the time, you get to read from the perspective of our three main characters: Connor, Risa, and Lev. I can understand why some people disliked that there were so many perspectives, usually I don’t like that either, but in this particular novel, I didn’t think it was a problem. I thought the transitions were done really well, every voice felt unique, and they only brought more depth to the story. Every part of the book was so brilliantly woven together in the end, and I must congratulate Shusterman for being such a god damned genius.
I also really loved the characters, and not only because I liked them as human beings (I didn’t all the time), but because of how interesting and realistic they were. The way they thought and behaved…it felt like I was reading about real teenagers. They had problems, good sides and faults, and throughout the story, they had to struggle with these while trying to survive in a world that found them worthless. It was so fascinating to see how they all handled it in their own ways, and that was one of my favourite aspects of the book.
“Most people have two emergency modes. Fight and Flight. But Connor always knew he had three: Fight, Flight, and Screw Up Royally.”
And when it comes to the world in which all this takes place….oh dear. It was so twisted and horrible that I sometimes just wanted to scream. It’s a world where the value of humanity somehow has gotten lost, and where cruelty and desperation rule. I don’t quite believe that people would actually unwind their children in the real world, but I think it’s a brilliant representation of what some might be willing to do in order to save themselves, and to get rid of unwanted responsibilities.
In conclusion, this is a stunning novel about life, purpose, and humanity. I found it really intense and unpredictable, and it kept me up reading almost all night (man, the headache was horrible the next day). It was creepy, disgusting, and beautiful, all at the same time, and at the end I didn’t know if I should cry or laugh (so I did both).
If you’re squeamish, maybe you shouldn’t pick up this book, but otherwise, definitely go for it.
“I was never going to amount of much anyway, but now, statistically speaking, there’s a better chance that some part of me will go on to greatness somewhere in the world. I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.”
“Unwinds didn’t go out with a bang — they didn’t even go out with a whimper. They went out with the silence of a candle flame pinched between two fingers.”
“”No one knows whether you’re a monster or a hero.” Lev thinks about that. “Is there a third choice?””