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Friday, March 23, 2012

Unwind (Unwind #1) by Neal Shusterman

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

First Look: ***** I’ve had this recommended to me by multiple people. The cover is very creepy, and the premise as well. It looked interesting, though, so I had to try it. Mainly, I just wanted to see how the premise was carried out.

Setting: *****
It was interesting enough. I didn’t particularly fall in love with it, but I appreciated that it was well thought-out. I liked how the author actually gave us a history for this world, and a reason for it to be a dystopia. So many dystopian books just hand us a messed-up world, without any explanation for how it got that way. So it was interesting to know how it came to be, not just how it is. (By the way, a message for dystopia writers: Explanation and backstory for your world is not merely a nice option. It is a MUST.)

Characters: *****
My favorite part about the characters was that they were very relatable. Also, they seemed very realistic. These things both added a whole new level of creepy to the story. Lev, Risa, and Connor all seemed like real people, who could be anyone from school. Lev was really the interesting one, because he’d been raised in such an odd, twisted way. Risa’s story was just sad, and I really felt for Connor.

I also liked Emby. And CyFi, though he kinda creeped me out at the same time.

Plot: *****
Lots of action. Yay for action! The plot really kept me wanting to read it, to find out what was going to happen next and if Risa, Connor, and Lev would manage to survive. And at the end, it left me wanting the next book, so I can know what happens next!

Uniqueness: ***** This book stands out from today’s crowd of dystopian YA. And I don’t think any author will be brave enough to try to copy it, either.

Writing: *****
At times, the writing threw me off. It was in third person, but present tense, a somewhat unusual combination (in my experience, at least). Most of the time it worked just fine, but once and awhile it would jar me out of the story. It probably would’ve worked better in past tense. Other than that, though, there were no typos or anything. Not that I can remember, at least.

Likes: After reading this, I can’t figure out whether the author is pro-life or pro-choice. I’m considering this a good thing because, though I definitely stand on one side of that line, nobody likes to read a preachy book. The author managed to stay on the line between, never saying he’s in favor of one or the other, just saying “See? This could happen. Don’t let it.” No matter what your opinion is, this book will leave you with quite a bit to think about.

The whole idea of unwinding just made me cringe. As the author intended, I suppose.

This is neither a like nor a dislike, but I feel it’s worth mentioning. There was one scene, towards the end, that was just….wow. Not really a good wow, but a that-was-shocking wow. It was creepy. Very, very creepy. Not pleasant to read. Anyone who’s read this book knows what I’m talking about. Not for the faint of heart, people.

Total Score: I enjoyed this book. The characters were very realistic, which went a long way towards how well I liked it. The dystopian setting was also realistic. This book definitely makes you think. It’s not a book to take lightly—not that you should take any book lightly, but this one especially sets you thinking. It asks big questions, and doesn’t necessarily answer them for the reader. Recommended for just about anyone who thinks they can handle the difficult premise.

PS: That lovely scene I was talking about?  There's a (sort of) reenaction in this video right here.  Because, well, nothin' like a lovely unwinding to make your day better.
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  1. Yaaay! :D And I liked CyFi too but he was kinda creepy, haha. And that one chapter is almost creepy enough to give someone nightmares...

    1. Oh my goodness, yes. I feel that chapter should come with a warning or something. You kind of see it coming, but still. *shudders*

  2. I loved this book! That one scene, is it where they described the actual unwinding? Because that creeped me out the most and I can still remember reading it quite well.

    1. Yep, that's the scene I was talking about. It's horribly creepy but strangely compelling.


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