Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Story Synopsis:

In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called "unwinding." Unwinding ensures that the child's life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child's body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.

With breath-taking suspense, this book follows three teens who all become runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents' tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing. As their paths intersect and lives hang in the balance, Shusterman examines serious moral issues in a way that will keep readers turning the pages to see if Connor, Risa, and Lev avoid meeting their untimely ends. (from

My Review:




This book is AMAZING.

I need to stop and breathe for a second if I'm going to do any sort of logical review. Otherwise you're just going to get 300 words of fan-girl squealing. No one wants that.



In Unwind, Neal Schusterman takes the abortion debate to a  horrifying conclusion: Abortions are outlawed, and instead, teenagers can be "unwound". All their organs are donated, so that no part of them technically dies. The story follows three teens scheduled for unwinding.

It's gripping, it's breathtaking, its brain-blowingly amazing. Shusterman handles a complex and emotionally charged debate with deft skill, creating a book that will leave your fingers clutching the pages and your brain whirring as it tries to sort through all the implications. The characters are more than just stand-ins for the author to preach (as so often happens with morally charged books), but full-fledged entities with story arcs that will leave your heart pounding. I got choked up a couple of times. I really did. There's one scene in particular - one horrifying, gut-wrenching, eye-tearing scene - which I don't think will ever leave me. It's going into my personal list of "Top Ten Most Haunting Scenes". I'm still shuddering.

Even while creating believable characters and weighty storylines, Schusterman managed to do his science homework. In my non-blog life, I'm a neuroscientist. Speculative neuroscience in fiction tends to make me facepalm. It's ridiculous. Writers (screenwriters included) blather on and on without actually knowing any more about the brain than what can be read in the first sentence of a Wikipedia article. But Schusterman managed the neuro sci-fi bits excellently. Okay, there was one slight speed bump, but the story was good enough that I didn't care. Disbelief suspended, I totally bought into it. This book gets my Neuro Seal of Approval.

I started pulling out quotes that I wanted to put in the blog. I even went to far as to dog-ear a couple pages - a practice which normally makes me cringe. But in the end I dropped them all. The issues raised by this book go far beyond the abortion debate, and their weight is too much to get across in a few cherry-picked quotes. This is a book you need to discover for yourself. I don't care what side of the debate you're on, this book is a must-read.

My Rating: 5 stars

Rated by: Blair

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