This is a very dark, disturbing yet philosophical book that will stay in your brain for a very very long time. This is the first time that I have read anything by Shusterman and after reading Unwind, I am interested to see whether his other books are as good as this.
In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that together by desperation, these 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 then every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, is wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.
The first thing to say about Unwind is that it is a book that portrays many ethical questions about abortion, when does a life become a life? religion, death, and consciousness. Shusterman not only writes about these issues but shows that both sides to the argument and in turn, gets the reader thinking about these issues.
I was a bit weary about the concept of the book at first. It seemed like an idea that was too far-fetched. However, I came to realise that with this book being dystopian, no idea was too much.
I loved the characters of Connor and Risa; not so much Lev because he annoyed me so much because of the way he would deal with situations and the way that he would talk. I don’t know whether this was because he was only thirteen and less mature than Connor and Risa or whether his character was meant to be disliked. (He got better at the end of the book, though)
This book isn’t to be taken lightly. There were a lot of times where I didn’t think I could carry on reading because of how disturbing it was – I think this was because of the philosophical questions aforementioned. There was also a chapter where we got to see – through the eyes of a character – what happened during an unwinding and I thought I was going to be sick. The thought of someone being alive whilst all of their body parts and organs are removed one by one is just… uggghhh. No. I couldn’t handle reading about it.
“You see, a conflict always begins with an issue – a difference of opinion, an argument. But by the time it turns into a war, the issue doesn’t matter anymore, because now it’s about one thing and one thing only: how much each side hates the other.”
– Neal Shusterman, Unwind
This is book one in a quartet which makes me unhappy. The ending of Unwind made a fantastic ending for a standalone. Knowing that there are another three books makes me unsure on whether I want to read them or not because I cannot see what can be done in the rest of them that would still be as interesting as Unwind.
This is a brilliant book that deals with important questions and scenarios of unwanted children, babies being left on other people’s doorsteps, people getting harvested for their temporal lobes and every other body part and also deals with the question of ‘who chooses when our lives end?’
By spinning together philosophy and a pure dystopian plot, Shusterman has created a horrifying yet fantastic read.
Warning: not for those with weak stomachs.