Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Unwind | Neal Shusterman

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age 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 talented 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. 

Non-Spoiler Review

Neal Shusterman does a fantastic job of creating a parallel world whose citizens are battling the same ethical question we are, except on a more severe scale. After a second civil war, which divides the country into pro-life and pro-choice, an eerie compromise emerges: the unwinding. A human is untouchable from the moment of conception until the age of thirteen, when a parent can have their child unwound, each body part is given to different donors. A method has been perfected to be able to easily transplant any and every organ. This book follows Connor, Risa and Lev, all of whom came together from completely separate worlds and separate beliefs, having a common goal: to survive until eighteen and avoid unwinding. Shusterman does a great job of giving radically different perspectives that all are understandable; he also does an amazing job of integrating dark and heavy topic with comical and light moments. I recommend this book for any teenager who can stomach a fairly dark and eerie book.

Spoiler-Filled Discussion

This book is one of the most frightening and disturbing ones I've read, and I couldn't have loved it more. Everything about this book was intense, even when there was no immediate action happening.

Connor, Risa and Lev were so interesting to follow. Each of them came from a different world: Connor, a troubled kid being unwound because of his misdoings, Risa, a ward of the state, a talented piano player that just isn't talented enough, and Lev, a tithe, conceived and raised believing he's a gift of God. The character development throughout this book from beginning to end is so well done. Even though Connor portrays a typical tough boy, whose really soft on the inside, his particular story with a storked baby was immensely graphic and heartwrenching; I felt the guilt as if I was one of the neighbors who had a hand in his/her's death.

Connor and Risa's relationship also developed at the right tempo, it wasn't too fast nor was it too slow. Both of their personalities complement each other and were able to control the rest of the unwinds fairly easily. Every interaction between them had a purpose: to show desperateness, to portray urgency, etc.

Out of all of the characters however, Lev takes the spotlight for character development. Not only was he forced to change his way of life, but he had to change most of his beliefs, the ones instilled in him since he was born. As he learned how things really are, the real truth behind unwinding, he was able to come up with his own beliefs and his own opinions on how things really were. Even though he lost a lot of his naivety and playfulness, he was able to create his own view on the world. The fact that he was able to stick with Cy-Fi through Cy-Fi's mental episodes was commendable. Putting myself in Cy-Fi's shoes, it seems terrifying having another person stuck inside your brain as well.

There's so much in this book to discuss, but I think the ending is a must. Karma really got to Roland when he got unwound, can't say I was too surprised about that. What I didn't expect was for it to be in his perspective as it happened. I could feel myself in Roland's position, not being able to do anything about the position I was stuck in. The fact that Connor got Roland's arm is also quite disturbing. From a medical stand point I think it's really cool how they're able successfully transplant an arm and still have a strong neural connection between the flesh and the brain. But from an ethical stand point, it's frightening to think that there's a whole part of you, that doesn't exactly belong to you.

This book has everything: shudders, laughs, tears. I give it a 95% and recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark, dystopian books like the Hunger Games.