Unwind, by Neal Shusterman


5 Stars 

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.

I know, I know. It’s my turn to be the terrible blogger who’s leaving my co-blogger to manage a blog by herself. To that I say, I am so sorry, and I especially apologize to Haven. You’re an awesome friend, and I’ll definitely post more!

Anyway, onto Unwind. This is actually a reread of mine, my first reading of it being in 8th grade. I have to say, though. I absolutely did not truly understand the complex messages and politics in this book when I was 13, and although I liked the story then, I did not appreciate this story for what it was. Now, years later, I believe I can say that I am better educated and completely blown away by how wonderful Shusterman is.

I had the honor of meeting Neal Shusterman himself about two weeks ago, and when I asked him to explain his inspiration behind this book, he said something interesting. Although I don’t remember his exact words, he said that his inspiration came from an interview where people were asked if they would still support their political candidate if he/she switched sides on just one issue but was the same otherwise. Most said yes, unless asked about abortion, in which they refused to continue to support their candidate. So then, these people wouldn’t mind if their candidate changed sides on any other issue, except abortion, making it essentially the only issue that mattered.

Shusterman said that he wrote Unwind as a dystopia where society had worked out the worst possible solution to the Pro Life/Pro Choice issue, and it had stuck because the two sides could not agree on anything else. Thus, Unwind was born: a world where abortion is outlawed, but when a child is between the ages of 13 and 18, a parent can choose to retroactively “abort” a child, where the child’s organs are completely harvested and used in organ transplants.

Creepy, right? Even on a reread, the premise stills strikes me as disturbing, but honestly, that’s what makes this book so good. In our world, we know unwinding would never become a thing, but we also know that there are many controversial issues where two parties refuse to compromise, and therefore the only solution that works is one that hurts both sides, and negatively impacts those caught in the middle.

The world is fascinating, and really makes you rethink modern politics. Considering this book is one of the pioneers of the teen dystopian genre, I struggle to see why more books aren’t like this, where they make you think, instead of following a cookie-cutter Hunger Games-esque premise like all books seem to do these days.

Therefore, pick up this book if you want a slightly chilling, thought-provoking novel that gives you an alternate reality that’s all too realistic.



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