Review – Unwind
by Neal Shusterman
After reading this book I am extremely disturbed. It is a YA dystopia and there was a second civil war and some reason, it doesn’t really matter why, the two sides decided that all people have a right to life until age 13. Between 13 and 18 a kid can be unwound, sold for parts (a sort of later in life abortion) if they are wards of the state, their parents decide they are too much work, or their guardian signs them away. There has been a breakthrough in medicine so arms, skin, teeth, muscles everything can be harvested and implanted on people who need new parts. There are tons of cops making sure these unwind kids don’t run away because it is big business for the government. But the kicker and rhetoric is the kids are still alive because around 95% of each kid has to be used by law. They are just disassembled and they live on in the people who need their body parts. Yay! I didn’t have my kid killed, he lives on in hundreds of different people. Isn’t that wonderful? Shusterman makes sure you know if the kid is still “there” and it is a little bit horrifying.
The adults in this world allow this to happen knowing that it isn’t a wonderful thing, regardless of the rhetoric spouted by the government and they all feel guilty when they send a kid to be unwound. However, they spout the same marketing BS to try to make the kid and themselves feel better about it, because many parents send their kids for unwinding. The other issue is that you can stork a baby (leave it on someone’s doorstep and they are required by law to raise the child if they don’t catch you leaving it). So many families have more kids than they can handle. YA books usually have adults as clueless or evil or stupid and the kids know better, but wow, these adults can be quite harsh, though not all of them, because some are amazing. But society has deemed it acceptable, so there you go.
Read this book. It is horrible, it is tough and it is so well done. Some terrible decisions are made by all sorts of people young and old. I liked it from the first few pages. So, think back on your life, when you were 13 or 15, not the best of years for many of us. You go through puberty, you fight with your folks, you feel sullen and removed…how many of us would have ticked off our folks and been unwound? Or had a sibling unwound? Seriously. There is this scene, well a couple of them actually that are so intense. I think some of them will haunt me for some time to come. Much like an after image of a bright light on my retinas.
This book is well-written, makes you think, has full, well-rounded primary and secondary characters and has a crazy idea but shows you how it could really happen. It also has dangling storylines that get woven together seemlessly. I loved that certain things were brought back up and answered or just came full circle. There will soon be another book and I imagine any open-ended storylines or remaining questions will be answered. Also, discord has been sown…I am hoping we will eventually see the fall of this unwinding business. This book scared me, was well written, had characters I cared about and made me think, I give this book 5 stars.