Unwind by Neal Shusterman

‘Unwind’ is the story of three very different teenagers, Connor, sixteen, who is constantly in trouble at school because of his temper, Risa, fifteen, an orphan who was raised in one of the many state homes all over the USA and Lev, thirteen, who has been raised to believe he must make the ultimate sacrifice. Connor, Risa and Lev have one thing in common, they are about to be unwound.

Following the second Civil War, also known as the Heartland War twenty years ago, a war between the Pro-life and Pro-choice armies, the Bill of Life was created, which states that a human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen, this means that between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent or guardian can ‘abort’ their child on the condition that the child’s life does not ‘technically’ end, this process is known as ‘Unwinding’, the child will not die, parts of he/she will harvested for transplants, which has become normal within society, every part of your body can be replaced at the price of ending another person’s life.

Connor is being unwound because of his behaviour, Risa is being unwound because the state home she lives in can no longer afford her and due to the vast amount of abandoned babies who have been ‘storked’ unsuccessfully (‘storked’ is when a baby is abandoned at a person’s house, under the law, the person must accept the baby, if the baby is ignored they eventually arrive at a state home) there is no place for Risa. Lev has been preparing to be unwound since birth because he is a tithe, he been taught that his unwinding will be a contribution in the greater scheme of things, Lev is happy to be unwound the day after his thirteenth birthday. Connor and Risa take the opportunity to run and Lev is forced to run with them, now the three of them are on the run, all they can hope is that they keep running or hidden until they are eighteen. In a world where all teenagers are at risk of being ‘unwound’ by their own parents/guardians, who can they trust?

What I thought of ‘Unwind’ ~

I went through various emotions reading ‘Unwind’, I could not understand how a bill like the Bill of Life could be passed but given the situation within the society and the ‘need’ for transplants, it was acceptable to society, I also found it cruel that all the children who are unwinded are put forward for various reasons, behaviour, lack of money and with such a lack of conscience, what would possess a parent/guardian to do such a thing while telling their children that effectively they will still be alive in someone else, and in some ways they are but the person they were is gone with only parts left.

‘Unwind’ is a strong story with characters who are faced with death before their time, there is so many discussions surrounding the nature of human transplants but with ‘Unwind’, the majority of children are not given an option or are taught to believe it is the right thing to do, there are so many questions raised within this book but it leads back to the same thought, well for me it did, that no one has the right to decide when someone should die. Each character has their own story and as you read you learn more and about them, and the cruelty of their situation, and how they are lied to by people they trust, none of them deserve their fate.

Neal Shusterman has wrote a story with the subject of an future that could happen, which makes it more frightening, at times, sad and in one particular part, heartbreaking, you will care about Connor, Risa, Lev and the rest of the children about to be unwound.

‘Unwind’ is an excellent story, its heartfelt, insightful, and definitely gives you something to think about.

An excellent book, highly recommended and I hope to read more books by Neal Shusterman.

Rating ~ 10/10

Reviewed by Weave (Paula Mc)

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