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Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind (2007)

by Neal Shusterman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Unwind (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,1153001,809 (4.25)209
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Showing 1-5 of 299 (next | show all)
This was really good. It dealt with the harsh reality of these kids situations so elegantly. It was practically poetically philosophical. I'm am very interested to read more in this series. ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 20, 2015 |
What this book is about is that there is this kid that is supposed to be sent to an unwind camp so he will be unwinded. What unwinded means is that the kids 13 - 18 will be sent away to be taken apart. So what that means is that their guts and heart and bones will be taken out of them and given to the people who need transplants. You may wonder why the parents send them to go and be killed? Well the reason is because if the parent just does not want the child anymore the parent can sign papers to give the child to the government and the kid will be unwond. In this story the main character's parents signs papers to have him be unwond but he finds out and runs away . He runs and runs but he forgot he brought his phone so his dad and the police found him and tried to take him again but he ran again. On his way while he was running he find other kids who are running to . He finds a girl and another boy like him but this boy was a tithe.
While the kids were running they found a neighborhood and they saw a bunch of kids waiting for a bus. They decided to act like they were the new kids so they go and wait with the kids at the bus stop. Once the bus comes the main character sees that someone has storked a baby . The main character gets upset and decides to pick up the baby and runs back to the bus and brings the baby onto the bus to take to school with them. Once they get to school they run to the bathrooms and hide in there all day . Once the bell rings an alarm goes off meaning that "clappers" are there. The kids run outside and start clapping to take the attention away from them and the 3 kids run. They run and run untill they get away and they are never found.
  alexs.b4 | Oct 20, 2015 |
This was really good. It dealt with the harsh reality of these kids situations so elegantly. It was practically poetically philosophical. I'm am very interested to read more in this series. ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 17, 2015 |
Ultimately, the author has succeeded at creating a future world that is fascinating to visit and that also analyzes medical ethics in a creative way. I would honestly say the book is much more about medical ethics, particularly in regards to transplants, than it really is about abortion rights.

The basic plot is that three very different teenagers are supposed to be unwound but then find themselves on the run instead of actually at Harvest Camp. The book is in the third person but from the limited perspective of one character, and that one character switches around. It is predominantly Connor, Risa, or Lev, but it is also sometimes someone like a juvie cop or a parent. Sometimes this narrative structure works really well, providing many different perspectives on the same event or issue. Other times it feels too contrived. The perspective switches at just the right moment to keep the reader in the dark, or to reveal something we wouldn’t otherwise know. Sometimes this structure builds suspense and other times it kind of ruins it. Overall, though, I enjoyed the structure and found that the multiple perspectives really added to the world and the story.

This narrative structure is enhanced by clippings from real, modern-day newspaper articles and blogs, as well as fake advertisements and news from the future the book is set in. Partially due to the Audible narrator, who did a fantastic job at the ads, I really enjoyed these snippets of media from the future. They are very tongue-in-cheek and adult, but will still appeal to teens reading the book for their over-the-topness. I found the modern day news articles to be less interesting, and mostly felt a bit like scare mongering. They read as a bit heavy-handed in pushing the “this could really happen!” angle.

I did find it a bit frustrating that all three of the main characters are white and straight. While it is acknowledged that a few people (primarily adults) could be GLBTQ, the assumed norm is straight and cis, no matter what social organization is in control. Whether it’s mainstream society, rebels, or anyone in-between. The norm is always straight cis. Similarly, while the author does include non-white people to a much greater degree than non-straight/non-cis people (there are a wide variety of ethnicities and religions represented in the society), they are all secondary characters. One thing that really stuck out to me was that at one point in the book we meet a Chinese-American girl who is being unwound because her parents wanted a son, and they just kept trying until they got one and then picked a daughter to unwind, because they couldn’t afford all the kids. She’s also got an interesting punk aesthetic to her. What an interesting main character she would have been! Can you imagine her in the role of Connor? They are both running away from being unwound, and she could easily have taken that main character role. It just bothers me when a book has three main characters who are all in a similar situation due to society-wide problems, and yet they are so non-diverse, with just a nod at gender by having one female character.

With regards to the female character, Risa, I must say I was very disappointed to have be an attempted rape of her, and her then being saved by a male character. First, we only get one female main character and then she naturally is almost raped. Then naturally she must be saved by someone else. The whole scene sickened me, especially when I thought about teen girls reading it. It was just a completely unnecessary plot point. I once read an article that talked about how often rape scenes (or attempted rape scenes) are a sign of lack of creativity. I don’t think all of them are, but this one certainly came across that way. Unnecessary and a convenient plot point without thought to how it would affect the readers.

In spite of these characterization and style complaints though, the plot is very good, and the world is fascinating. Characters in a natural manner talk about and explore the ethics of life, when life begins, and who has the right to life, as well as who has the right to end it. The plot is fast-paced, and I read as quickly as I could to find out what happened. There are also a couple of twists at the end that rocked my socks off and left me immediately downloading the next book in the series.

All of that said, I have a few questions about the world that were never addressed. First, if everyone who is unwound is between the ages of 13 and 17, how does that work out with transplantation? People have not yet finished growing at 17, especially their minds. Does this mean a 67 year old woman would have a 15 year old’s arm if she needed a transplant? If so, that sounds very grotesque to me, and I wonder how society has learned to deal with something so mis-matched. This isn’t particularly addressed, except to say that sometimes it’s weird to look at someone with two eyes that don’t match. Similarly, the world at large isn’t really talked about at all. The kids who are trying to escape being unwound don’t even consider running into another country but they never explain why. How has the world at large reacted to the United States’ new law? Is there any country that would be a safe-haven for unwinds? Are there other countries following suit? The international impact is woefully underaddressed.

In spite of these various shortcomings, the plot and the world still sucked me in. It was a quick read that left me wanting more.

Overall, fans of dystopian ya looking for another series to whet their appetite will definitely enjoy this one. It’s a completely different dystopia from most of the ones that are already big, and I am sure YA readers who are currently teens themselves will find the idea of their parents being able to sign an unwind order on them chilling. Dystopian YA fans should definitely give this one a go.

Check out my full review. (Link will be live September 29, 2015). ( )
  gaialover | Sep 12, 2015 |
I see an actual possibility of the world going down the shitter one day and landing us in a reality like “Unwind” represents – I blame TWERKING if it does. I can even prove it.

Erm...In one way this was a very good read, but in another it lacked so much. My thoughts were divided between the meaning of the novel – which I liked, and the actual world building and character development- which I didn't like as much.

If I could choose a true main subject of this novel, I would name it “Current Popular Morality”.

If we look at our world around us, the social acceptance is fueled by what society believes to be correct at the time. For example in this day and age, you are considered an enlightened, compassionate human being if you are a surrogate parent for a couple that can't have their own natural children for whatever reasons. A few decades ago you would be considered something akin to Frankenstein's monster if you chose to 'rent your womb out', mainly because it was considered extremely amoral, and people doing it cold and cruel, because what kind of mother is capable of giving birth and just giving her kid away. Our morality and the code of accepted behavior mutates with humanity, influenced mainly by the prolonged exposure of certain ideas and certain fashions. The longer you are exposed to 'shocking behavior' the more immune to it's shock value you become. Another example – a few years back, the dreaded 'duck face' was extremely popular on social media, now you're considered a loser if you do it. A few years back your passport photo would include your face, and now you are considered 'lame' unless that photo is actually an animated gif of you looking across your shoulder and exposing your quivering ass cheeks. What was considered extremely vulgar just a few years back became widely accepted behavior for women of all ages.

And we come to the conclusion- just because everyone does it, doesn't make it any less nasty.

If we apply the Current Popular Morality pattern to “Unwind”, the culture in witch destroying a normal, healthy human being for the sake of it's 'spare parts' is completely plausible. But probable? Not so much.

Here is what made me not connect with the world described in the novel. Current Popular Morality is a human social construct. It is flawed beyond imagining, simply by being a human social construct. It can't hold a candle or even dream to compete with mother nature. And she is a ferocious beast when riled....because she is a mother.

So when Shusterman introduces us to a world of so much disregard, neglect and will to kill your own flesh and blood with so little emotional connection, I don't buy it. At all. You see parents that don't bat an eyelid but simply choose to have their child torn apart because they were being rowdy teenagers. It doesn't make any sense.

Then you have the fact that the entire Bill of Life defies the current direction of humanity which is overpopulation. The people in this novel are allowed to have as many kids as they make, and are allowed to dump them on people's doorstep, and are allowed to have them cut up for the progress and continuation of life of mainly already mature adults. Doesn't make any sense at all. If anything a global wide forceful implementation of contraception is more likely to be the outcome, not a decree that allows the populace to breed like rabbits. With no contraception are we to believe no more disease is spreadable sexually in the future?

So this is why I had a hard time completely liking “Unwind”. As a YA, dystopian novel it focused more on the social aspect between the characters rather than interactions with the outside world. It was an original concept, but I wouldn't call it disturbing or creepy. Morbid maybe... Still it was a good read, but I won't be continuing the series. ( )
1 vote IvieHill | Aug 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 299 (next | show all)
Let me start off by by saying that this is a really good book. I am having a really tough time getting through the first half of this book. Not because it's boring but because of how sickening it is. The idea of taking someone apart (willingly or other) is a really hard thing for me to stomach. That and the fact that the way this story is portrayed, unwinding is an actually feasible possibility in the real world. what's unwinding? Unwinding is when you take someone (they're always a minor), take their bodies apart, and send the parts off so that another person can have them. I bet you just reread that sentence, thinking: "what the hell?" but yeah, that's what it is.See, when they do this, it technically isn't murder, so to them that makes it okay. This is an interesting book that I am actively forcing myself to get through because I enjoy it just about as much as I am nauseated by it.
added by morgan434 | editepub

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Shustermanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Daniels, LukeReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to the memory of Barbara Seranella
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"There are places you can go," Ariana tells him, "and a guy as smart as you has a decent chance of surviving to eighteen."
What he and Risa have isn't a relationship; it's just two people clinging to the same ledge hoping not to fall.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In this futuristic society teenagers can be “unwound” for any number of reasons, including being a state ward or juvenile delinquency. When Connor finds out his parents have signed to order to have him unwound, he becomes a fugitive and accidentally frees a busload of other potential unwinds. He and his friend Risa must stay on the run until their 18th birthdays. With the help of some adults they find themselves in a colony of fugitives. But all is not well here, either, and it’s hard to tell who’s friend or foe.
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In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to survive until they turn eighteen.

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