Last week I finished reading a book called Unwind by Neal Shusterman. The story starts with Connor, a somewhat troubled youth who just found out his parents are going to have him unwound. What is unwinding you might ask? Basically a child is taken apart bit by bit. Every single part of that child is used for those in need of transplants, new limbs etc, but said child does not die. The child’s consciousness is still there, in all the pieces that are taken there is still a bit of that child in those pieces. How could such a practice come about? From the Heartland War, a war between pro life and pro choice supporters. A compromise was reached in unwinding. Abortion was made illegal, however after 13 years a parent can choose to have their child unwound for almost any reason. It’s problematic because 13 is the age when many kids start to get snarky and annoying.
To add another level to the book is the concept of tithing. It’s the same as tithing 10% of all you own, only with your children. So a child is born and told from a very young age that they will be tithed and that it’s a good thing, they are holy and somehow more special then regular children. They are also told that they are totally different from regular “unwinds” and by different they mean better.
This book was an amazing read. It was challenging without being preachy and I found it hard to tell if the author was pro life or pro choice. I mention that only because in a book of this nature, where a commentary on society and beliefs are being made, it would be really easy to fall into the trap of propaganda and the book didn’t read that way at all. There were times I found myself thinking “Of course Mr. Shusterman is pro choice,” but then a few paragraphs later I would second guess that assumption.
The pace of the story is excellent. It’s a tale of survival and hiding which could be very boring in places. The story is told from the point of view of three major characters. Occasionally another character or group of characters will get a chapter or two, but the three main characters Connor, Risa and Lev are the narrators the majority of the time. I think that helped a lot with keeping the pace moving forward. When the action started to lag with one character their chapter would end and another would begin. Writing the chapters this way also let us delve deep into each character.
The characters in this book were so well developed, by the end of the book I felt like I’d made new friends. Connor, Risa and Lev all change dramatically in the book. By the end they are completely different from the people they were at the beginning of the story. The changes come gradually and make sense because Mr. Shusterman shows us their journey. We see the choices they have to make and we understand their thought process. It’s not as if the characters change overnight, which can be a problem with a lot of books.
Overall this book has become one of my favorites. It’s one I’d like to put on my shelf and read over and over. I think you’d find something new and compelling in it every time. It really challenged me and I like that.
In a time when abortion, rape culture and women’s rights are on the tip of everyone’s tongues, this book fits right in. But I can’t decide if it takes any sort of real stand. Maybe that’s what makes it such a fantastic book. Both ideas are represented and each person can take from that what they will.