Monday 13 June 2011

Book Review- Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Title: Unwind
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Unwind #1
Published:   November 6 2007  by Simon & Schuster
Length:  335 pages
Warnings: guns, fairly graphic detail of surgery, boy attacking girl
Other info: Neal Shusterman has also written things like the Everlost series. The sequel is expected in 2012, and a film is in early production stages.
Summary (blurb): The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called “unwinding”. Unwinding is now a common, and accepted, practise in society.
In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would unwind them. Brought together by choice, and kept together by desperation, these unlikely companions make a harrowing cross country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed-but when ever piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, is wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

Review: first opinions: disturbing. In case you haven’t worked out from the blurb, Unwinding is basically taking apart a person and using pretty much every part of their body  to cure someone elses ills. One way of thinking about it is organ donation, without the donor dying before. Oh, and the fact that that they can only be teenagers and don’t have to be willing. One way for a teen to get Unwound is the parents of the teen signing him off to get Unwound, like Connor’s parents. Another circumstance might be like Risa’s  a child who has been  relying on the state and her talents to stay alive, but is then told her talents aren’t enough and therefore they cannot afford to keep them fed and watered and therefore they must be unwound. Or they might be Tithes, like Lev, who were born and brought up to be Unwound when they’re old enough. The three teens mentioned above, through various means, escape their immediate fates and end up fighting the system, and trying to stay alive until eighteen, when they will be legally adults and immune to Unwinding.
As I said, disturbing. The fact that a parent could legally allow their child to be taken apart, and do, is disturbing. And then there’s chapter 61, which takes us through the Unwinding of a child, I won’t say who, while he is still conscious (through part of it anyway).  However disturbing it is, it also very good. Everything is left to your imagination, which I love.
The concept for this dystopia is very good, original and interesting. It all had purpose, and was easy to understand why it came about and the background behind the world.
The action is fast paced. It doesn’t slow down, even when the three of them aren’t on the move, there’s still something important that makes you want to read on.
The characters all have strong personalities. They all seemed real, and you really felt like you wanted them all to survive, or not in Roland’s case.
The writing style is good. Theres a lot of things that you read, and then re-read because you realise they have a deeper meaning than what you first thought. I wasn’t sure about the third person narrative to start with, but it worked well, and I liked the idea of naming each chapter after the character it focused on, which meant Shusterman could focus on minor characters as well.
I like the way every little thing fits together at the end, such as the legend of Humphree Dunphee, and ****'s Unwinding.  And the little snippets of things, such as a real news article and extracts from The Parent's Guide about Unwinding (or something along those lines) add a lot to it. 
Overall:  Strength 5 tea- an amazing dystopian adventure. I can’t wait for the sequel.


  1. I loved this book, too. I thought it was just original, touching, thought-provoking, all that good stuff. Shusterman's a genius!

  2. Nice, thorough review. This might be a bit too much for me, but it is definitely intriguing. I also like when things are left to the imagination, to an extent - where the author is assuming the reader is intelligent v. authors who just don't get around to putting in info.


Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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