Unwind (Unwind Trilogy #1)

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Unwind (Unwind Trilogy #1)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
November 06, 2007
ISBN
1416912045
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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.

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Overall rating 
 
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4.5  (23)
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*THE* YA Dystopia
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I paced up and down the hallway while reading the last 30 pages of this book. I had been reading on my bed, got up, and started pacing the hallway because I was so invested. I didn’t even realize what I had done until the last chapter or so. I think that says a lot that I was so drawn into the world of Unwind that I began to be just as anxious for the welfare of these characters as I potentially would for real people.

At the core, this book is about the value of a human life, but it touches several other topics. Shusterman doesn’t shy away from hard topics, and he doesn’t let his characters, either. Connor, Risa, and Lev are all asked hard questions and find ambigious answers. The reader is asked to ponder questions, some directly, such as “how do you measure life?” and “what is really the difference between a hero and a villian?” There’s plenty of desperation in this book to go around, let me assure you.

The world that’s created is real and frightening. The characterization is deep, subtle, and dynamic. In Shusterman’s world, no hero has completely clean hands and no villian is a caricature of evil, which makes it all the more frightening. Connor is quickly becoming one of my favorite protagonist ever, and it’s because his characterization is clear throughout the story.

The premise of the story is a little far-fetched, and at first, doesn’t seem believable, which is the only aspect that had me skeptical of giving this book 5 stars. However, in the book it’s out-righted stated that the “Bill of Life” was meant to be a shocking suggestion to make both sides see how far and wrong things had gone. It was never meant to be taken seriously, but both the “pro-life” and the “pro-choice” sides did take it seriously as a viable solution, and by that point, it was too late to change anything. After reading that, I gave a thumbs-up to the world-building.

Another unique aspect of the book is the different points of view. Each of the three main characters are so different from each other and engaging in their one way, though Lev’s thoughts have to be the most intriguing and at times, darkened, thoughts in the book. At various times, we cut away from the main three’s point of view for the chapter and go to someone else, like “The Guard”, or “The Teacher”. I saw a few reviews in which people were frustrated with this format. I think the frustration is understandable, but it’s worth it. Getting all those different points of view just once again outline the fact that the world and situations are complicated.

A final note: the creepiness factor in this book is sky-high, and it’s incredibly uncomfortable at times. Even though I thought it was an amazing book, it’s not something I’ll want to pick up again any time soon. A viewing of a insanely happy TV show is highly recommended after reading this.

Final Impression: This is such a solid book. Between the characters, writing, plot, and world-building, I was absolutely blown away by the setting and premise of Unwind. 5/5 stars.
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Unwind
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
It is my current belief that, between A Clockwork Orange and Unwind, I have no need to ever read a dystopian novel again, much less any of that romance-centric drivel that’s dominating today’s market—Dystopia Lite, I call it. I say this with complete seriousness. Unwind was brilliant.

Rewind back to my freshman Spanish class. Some leather-jacket-wearing kid whose glasses are about a foot thick leans over and says, “Hey, you should read this book—it’s really cool.” I peruse the back cover but, confident and worldy in my appreciation for “good” books by authors lke Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien. I politely tell him I’ll “think about it” and then promptly forget I’d ever heard of Neal Shusterman or Unwind.

After all, what could one greasy-haired 14-year-old boy possibly know about “good” books?

Jump forward a little bit, and I’ve just created a Goodreads account. Twilight, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and The Hunger Games are everywhere. But so is Unwind. I scoff, but figure I should do as Goodreaders do, so I buy the book. It, sadly, collects dust on my shelf. Once again, I forget I’d ever heard of it.

It is also my belief that “good” books, books worth reading, are like that annoying kid with sticky fingers at a family Christmas dinner. The book—and the kid—won’t leave you alone until you give it the attention it thinks it deserves.
In the end, I broke down and read Unwind. Unwillingly, suspciously, and with a good dose of “let’s just get this over already so I can get to the ‘good’ books” attitude.

Imagine my surprise, about halfway through Unwind, to discover that Neal Shusterman had actually written a “good” book—maybe even more than good. The feeling of “goodness” sneaked up on me, and I didn’t notice how much I loved Unwind until I was flipping pages like a oxygen-starved skydiver, desperate to see what happened, and when I got to the last page I sat, panting, on my couch, still without oxygen, but not sure I really needed to breathe after all.

So.

I met Connor, Risa, and Lev. Three kids with very different backgrounds and motivations. All three of them were unique, all three had a story to tell and a special light to cast on the situation. Each had a distinct narrative voice, and I loved them equally but separately. That, in my opinion, is a very hard thing to do in a novel. If Shusterman played favorites with his characters, he didn’t portray them in a way that forced his readers to do the same.

I was introduced to the New World. Children’s bodies sold to the highest bidder, cut into and dismantled before their waking eyes; babies dropped at strangers’ doorsteps by parents who have better things to do than raise a child. Christian fantatics who believe that God wants them to tithe everything—even their children. It was a frighteningly situation, and though I had questions that had no answers, I didn’t doubt the plausibility of this “future”.

I watched our three main characters grow and develop, learn things about themselves, their society, and human nature. I watched each character take a different response to their “death sentence” and I watched how their choices played out. I even watched one character as s/he was being Unwound, and though I didn’t like her/him very much in life, I was moved to sympathetic horror by her/his death.

I felt. While I read this book, I felt. I’m not easily moved to emotions while I read. I don’t cry; I laugh only occasionally. But while I read Unwind, I felt.

I don’t remember that boy’s name, the one from my Spanish class. Turns out, he was right and I was wrong. Unwind is a good book after all.
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Gripping
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Review from "A Battalion of Words"
www.abattalionofwords.blogspot.com
Good Points
Shusterman’s Unwind is a tale both disturbing and provocative one. It challenges ideas that may seem far-fetched at times and not pertinent to the issues of our time, but we soon learn through the many characters that this dystopian holds more relation to our lives than that meets the eye and provides a glimpse into a future that may not be so unrealistic after all.

In a time where teens loose the right to their bodies and can be signed away to be sold in parts in a process called “unwinding” where your body is still alive and exist “in a different state”, we meet Conner, Risa and Lev. Conner is your typical rebellious teenager whose had one too many fights than his parents can handle. His actions cost him the right to a life and the right to his body parts. Risa lives in a state home where she’s outgrown her use and her elders decide she can serve mankind better in “a divided state” than a whole one. Finally, Lev is a tithe—someone whose spent his whole devoted to the moment where he sacrifices his body for the prospect of greater good and God. In a sequence of actions, our three main characters meet and unite with a common goal.

Shusterman gives us a peak into a world we may be headed if human ethics and reason continue to be overshadowed by greed and ignorance to the consequences of war. I commend this author for choosing to stand on a side which belongs to neither the pro-life or pro-choice argument but one that considers both and has faith in morality and humans than the opinions that lead to violence or war. I can’t emphasize enough how there were many moments I kept thinking hmm, this sounds like the result of the world we live in now.

The characters are fully-realized and know what they want and even when they don’t, they know what they believe in—it just takes a few of them time to figure it out. Mind you though, this book kept me guessing until the very end. So, it is just as much plot-driven as it is character-driven.

To sum up my final thoughts, this book was dark and it’s one that lingers in your thoughts long after you’ve finished the last page. It’s not one that’s easily forgettable and with so many twists and thought-provoking plots, how can I not give this one 5 stars?! I will definitely be checking out all of the other books by this amazing author.
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New favorite dystopian
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Move over Hunger Games and Divergent, I think I have a new favorite dystopian novel! Neal Shusterman’s Unwind was amazing. Dark, deeply disturbing, but amazing. Brilliant, even. I really want to know where he got the idea for this story!
Like the uber popular Hunger Games series, the concept behind this book was highly original. I mean, legalized abortion for kids between the ages of 13 and 18? Insane! The world that was crafted is deeply disturbing, so please don’t start reading this book thinking it’s a fluffy middle grades “Dystopian 101” level book.


I have to take a moment and go off on a small tangent… When you read a great piece of fiction, it makes you think about a lot of things. I absolutely love when a book can challenge our views and opinions on controversial topics in ways that seem unimaginable and horrific. You can truly explore the dark psyche of human nature through literature, even when people are scared to express the ideas or views openly. That is great literature! So, thank you Mr. Shusterman for this book... even if others think you’re demented for creating the concepts that haunt the pages of Unwind.
One of the things that makes this book so amazing are the characters. They are very complicated. Each of the main characters have been chosen for “unwinding” (i.e. a form of legalized abortion during the ages of 13-18) without their concept. Connor is a troubled youth. He’s not breaking laws, but he doesn’t do anything to make his parents’ lives easier. Bad grades, bad attitude, bad future: Perfect candidate for unwinding. Except Connor is not okay with that decision. He realizes that he wants to live. His life is his to control. Risa has the unfortunate circumstance of being an orphan. State budgets are tough and money has to be saved somewhere. Unwind. Then there is Lev. Raised as a tithe (yeah, that kind of tithe), he will be devoted as an unwind. Until Connor kidnaps him and messes everything up.


I think Lev is one of the most interesting characters I have ever encountered. He starts off as this blind lamb willingly following someone else’s plan for his life. Then there is a series of very strange events that change him (not necessarily for the better). The person he becomes by the end of the book is so convoluted. His various transformations are interesting and certainly worthy of many discussions. (Please read this book so we can discuss it!) I know the author intended this to be a stand alone title originally, but I am thrilled to hear that there is more of this story to come. I hope that we get more insight into Lev because I have so many questions that I need answers for!
If you haven’t figured out the premise of the book yet, I’ll spend a bit trying to explain it. Basically, America’s final great war (called the Heartland War) was between two forces (Pro-Choice and Pro-Life) that just couldn’t reach an agreement. To stop further bloodshed, a third party (U.S. military) offered a solution to the age-long debate/war. The solution was unwinding. To make the Pro-Lifers happy, no one could get an abortion. All babies must be born and raised; however, you could choose to “unwind” your child from the time they turned 13 through his/her 18th birthday. The catch? Every single piece of the body has to be reused. (Yeah, think about that for a moment!) The military thought it was such a crazy idea that both sides would see the folly in their fighting and come to more peaceful terms. But you know that seldom happens when you’re dealing with politics. Both sides loved the idea! This is pretty thought provoking stuff, and that’s not even mentioning “the scene” near the end of the book. Good golly. It makes Saw IV look like an 80s Care Bear movie. There are no rainbows and unicorns in this one, folks.


This is a dark read. The subject matter is disturbing, but it’s written with great skill and care. I do not think it’s suitable for younger readers because there is a fair amount of graphic violence within the book. Do I think this book should be read? Absolutely! It would be a disservice to your country to not read this book. (Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a great book.) I really hope I get an ARC of book 2, Unwholly, before August. I would wet my pants if I did. I want to know what happens next! The anticipation is killing me.
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Could Buy The Premise
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
The short synopsis I read of this book said teens age 13-18 could be Unwound. I figured I was buying a dystopian, and eagerly started to read. The premise is actually that the pro-life and pro-choice camps took up arms and fought a second civil war. The way they ended that war was to compromise on a bill that allowed parents to retroactively abort their children once they reach the age of 13.

He lost me.

I think he was trying to be thought provoking, but I just couldn't get past the complete improbability of this premise. The idea that the pro-life people would approve of ANY abortion, much less one while the child is a teenager, struck me as ludicrous. The idea that the pro-choice people would be fine with the killing of teenagers struck me as equally ludicrous. And in the book, HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of families have signed this order against their own children, and THAT really strikes me as ludicrous.

I also wasn't won over by the author's frequent use of exclamation points. It felt like it was written to a younger crowd, but the subject matter is clearly not intended for chapter book readers.

However, all of that aside, this book has a ton of action, some very interesting characters (I loved the character arc for Conner, one of the heroes), and the conclusion will keep readers on the edge of their seats. I'm sure it will have fans.
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Thought-Provoking Book for All Ages
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
This was a great, thought-provoking read that actually made me tear up a little towards the end. Neal Shusterman gives you the perspective of three very different teens who are all facing the same consequences but for very different reasons.

Could this story have been told from the perspective of just one person? Of course, but I don’t think it would have been so effective on me as a reader. Unwind is a story about controversial subject matter and I think it was successful at not being preachy or patronizing. Ultimately, I think it was written objectively and its purpose was only to get the reader to reflect and think deeper on the subject because clearly, not everything is always black or white. The perspectives of Lev, Risa and Connor (as well as a few others in some chapters) provided the grayness in between so if you don’t empathize or identify with one character, you will with one of the others. Even though they are all going to be unwound, the three of them have very different takes on what it means and how they feel about it.

One of the best scenes of the book is when Neal describes an actual unwinding. It’s not actually gory or described in a particularly gruesome way, in fact it’s a very clinical and sterile process, but that – and the doctors’ flippant attitudes – is what makes it most horrifying. So horrifying I even found myself sympathizing with some of the antagonists in this book.

Although it’s not light subject matter, Unwind is a great page-turner that you can definitely breeze through in a few days. I did!
GB
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Awesome book Author never dissapoints
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Dice

This book was very good. Neal shusterman always has the best books. I recommend the age level to be 11-18.  Its a good book and a great shocking ending.    There are a couple of details missing but nothing major. Everyone should read this book. This book is the result of all the best books in the world coming in to one book. if you liked Everlost you will love unwind. ENJOY!
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One Of The Greatest!!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by bilquinc3

I thought this was one of the best books I have ever read. I read lots and lots of books but still only very few books I would consider to read over again. And this book was one of them. I thought it was sad and exciting all at the same time!
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The Line of Life - No Longer Debatable
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Katie Davidson



This is one of the most thought-provoking books I
have read in a long time. The issues presented are apparent in todays society
- except on a much, much smaller scale. Pro-life, or pro-choice. Now, I don't
know about anyone else who has read the book, but I find it difficult to
morally choose a "side" in these awful events.



 



The aftermath of the Second Civil war was
devastating, yet concise. It was fought over whether a woman should have the
right to abort a child or not. The armies agreed that there shall be no
termination of a fetus - but "Unwinding" is permitted. Unwinding is
the process of harvesting organs from children between the ages 13 and 18. The
condition was that all organs must be harvest - therefore the child is still "alive".
In my opinion, this is a very loose translation of the definition of living.



 



Unwind tells the story of three
children - all destined to be unwound. Connor is too difficult for his parents
to control. Risa is a ward of the state, and not talented enough to be of use
in this future society. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised,
predestined to be unwound for religious reasons.



 



Now, as I was first reading the book, I found these
scenarios completely outrageous and impossible. But as the story goes on,
I realized that scarily, this could occur - even if not in America. I warring
nation - desperate for compromise - will go to great lengths to preserve the
country and resources. While after this civil war, the country may have thought
it would be temporary solution to a ongoing problem. But my guess is
generations went on, not really caring about the Unwinds. It had become a
normal and accepted part of society - something that just happened. I believe
it was less of a matter of humanity and more of convenience - which is just as heart
wrenching as the difficult decisions made throughout the novel.



 



To this day, the line where life may begin is debatable from both sides.
But hopefully the horrible acts committed in this book will never be tolerated
in any sophisticated society.

~Katie, KY (14)






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Unwind Closer to Reality
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by K. Moreau

A supposed time that is closer that one thinks where a war lead by abortion leads to a new law. This law says that no child can be killed under the age of 12. However, from the ages of 13 to 18 one can be "unwound", having their bodies being donated to other poeple. to the governemnet they are not dieing becacuse 99.4% of their bodies are still laive. This story however disproves this theory. This plot like the Downsiders is so close to reality that it might actually exist, the author even comes to show a real article from 2003 about it. There are so many debates about abortion these days it's really not that close to being impossible. There are no boring parts to this novel and it's extremely thought provoking. I would recommend this book to anyone but espcieally those who enjoy the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. 
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