Thursday, June 4, 2009

Enchanting Review: Unwind

Young Adult Science Fiction
Simon and Schuster
ISBN# 1416912053
352 pages
Paperback - Available June 2, 2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

UNWIND is a thrilling tale, following the stories of three teens set to be unwound. The first, and oldest, is Connor Lassiter. He’s a good kid, a caring kid, but he has a temper that just explodes more often than anyone really cares for. When his parents decide that his constant fighting is just too much of a hassle for them, they make a decision and sign his unwind order. Everyone knows that once signed, the order is irreversible, so Connor’s only option is to attempt escape.

Risa is a StaHo ward – an unwanted child given to the state to raise. Wards are a hassle to the state; they suck down funding and resources. Every ward has to prove their worth. If not, they are more valuable to the state unwound than they are whole. It has been decided that despite her best efforts, Risa just isn’t talented enough to continue as a ward of the state. When she discovers that she has a date to be unwound, she makes a break for it, running into the wilderness.

Our third teen, Lev, has a story that will stick with me for years to come. He is a Tithe, a child conceived to lead a spiritual life continuing through the day he is unwound. While others beg, plead and run from their unwinding appointments, Lev looks forward to this. He has been raised to believe that his unwinding will be a glorious event where he will transition into a new state, capable of helping many people across the world. When something goes horribly wrong and Lev is forced to see the reality for other kids running from being unwinds, Lev gets a shock to the system that just might save his life.

Imagine a world where Pro-Life and Pro-Choice didn’t exist. In this world, everyone is happy because they have come to a mutual agreement regarding life. Well, everyone is happy except for the teenagers of course. In the world that Neal Shusterman has created, a great battle was fought over the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice issue. In the end, the Bill of Life was signed that protects life from the moment of conception up to the age of thirteen. At that point, between the ages of thirteen to eighteen, parents may choose to unwind their children for any reason. Unwinding is the process of removing every limb and organ while transplanting these into other individuals that need them. Have a broken arm? Get an Unwind replacement. Technically, 100% of the person is kept alive, so life doesn’t technically end.

UNWIND was chilling; absolutely and utterly chilling. I couldn’t put the book down, yet there were many times that I didn’t want to go on. Shusterman spun such a realistic and thought provoking tale that the question of “what if” kept playing through my head. That being said, I did finish the book and I absolutely love it. This is not the sort of book that I would cuddle up with in front of the fire. Rather, this is the type of book I would pull out anytime I wanted to exercise my mind, let the thoughts break free and roam of their own accord. I personally have not read a darker and more powerful tale than this. I would recommend it to everyone, but would warn that there is a message behind the book. Shusterman shows us what the world could turn into and does it in a gloriously gripping way.

If you get squeamish easily, normally I would say that this book is not for you; however, because this is such a great book, I would recommend it anyway. There are a few scenes that I still can not get out of my head. I wasn’t even there. I read a few black words on a grey page and yet they will haunt me for a while. The scenes in question are not graphic to say the least. If one examined the words, I’d say that they would probably be rated PG. Put them all together and allow Shusterman to take control of your imagine and the world will turn just a little bit darker.

UNWIND was intense; it was powerful. It is the kind of book that holds a revered spot on your shelf and the kind of book that you want to hide in a drawer somewhere so you don’t have to see it. Between the covers was such a complex and twisted series of emotions that the reader is left wondering about their own thoughts. It takes a certain kind of author to create a story that digs down to the core of a person and takes root there. Shusterman is that author and Unwind is that story.

Neal Shusterman is the author of other great Young Adult books like Everlost, Everwild and Downsiders. He can be found online at
May 2009

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