“Unwind (Unwind #1)” by Neal Shusterman
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Dystopias are a tricky thing. They need to be terrifying because part of the point is to scare us away from evolving into that society. At the same time it needs to have a little bit of an appeal. I know that sounds terrible but that tiny bit of appeal makes you understand how society got to that point. To me that makes the story more realistic and terrifying. Unwind was able to do that very well. I still can’t wrap my head around how unwinding a teenager is a compromise for abortion though. I’m thinking more along the lines of what is done after the unwinding. Everything goes to someone who needs it. A new hand for the contractor who lost his in a freak accident. New eyes for a blind person. New brain hemisphere for someone with seizures. So on and so forth. You can see how that can be appealing. Organ donors are a great help but there will never be enough to meet the demands. Unwinding solves that problem.
The multiple narrators helped greatly. Connor, Risa, and Lev make up a good portion of who Unwinds are. Connor is a problem kid. Always getting into trouble and he has poor grades. His parents have been a bit brainwashed into thinking that they’re “helping” everyone by having him unwound. Risa is a ward of the state. Just one of many being taken care of by the state. She’s a pretty good kid. She got good grades, she’s a lovely piano player but in the end she’s just not good enough. She’s just another mouth to feed and is taking up bed space from incoming kids. Lev has grown up his entire life knowing he was going to be unwound. He’s okay with the choice because he believes it somehow gives his life meaning.
There are other narrators thrown in there which worked out well. It’s an easy way to fill in gaps of knowledge that our protagonists don’t know. Roland’s narration was absolutely terrifying. He was written to be hated. You were almost glad to see him go but then the author choose to have him narrate his unwinding. That is horrifying.
There were so many twists and turns in this story. It was fantastic. You really never knew what was coming up next. It reminded me a lot of The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness (another AWESOME dystopia). This world has no right side. Everyone is a bit screwed up. He was willing to push the limits. Bad things happen to everyone. No one is able to escape it.
The bottom line? Awesome book. It’s very dark and twisted but definitely interesting.
This was read for BHA.