Saturday, October 2, 2010

Unwind by Neal Shusterman


Author: Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

4½ out of 5 stars

What if you had a stomach that could digest food better than you ever could before… but it’s not yours? How about three fingers on your left hand that are double jointed, however, they don’t truly belong to you? Maybe even an eye that can pick up details that you never noticed before, except it used to be a fourteen year old girl’s right eye. It is a bright blue that matched her favorite pair of tennis shoes, but it’s not hers anymore. It’s yours. You could have any of these body parts, and many more if you needed them. The only problem is that they would come from somebody else. Any one of these body parts would come from young adolescent teens who had their bodies taken from them, whether they liked it… or not.

These teens were unwound. They had all of their organs removed from their bodies and transplanted to other people, who needed them. But didn’t these kids need their organs too? Didn’t they need their heart, lungs, brain, and everything else to live? Well, once the unwound papers were signed, it was out of their hands. Literally.

Thanks to the Second Civil War, which was fought over reproductive rights, the Bill of Life was created which states that kids between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can be unwound. Their organs can be transplanted into people who have been in an accident, or have a disease. As the law sees it, instead of curing the patients’ disease or fixing their broken bodies, doctors will just replace the body part that is infected or damaged. It’s that simple. The kid doesn’t technically die, because their body parts are still living on in other peoples’ bodies.

A parent may choose to have their child unwound once they turn thirteen. It could be because their son or daughter is constantly acting up, or simply because they don’t want their child anymore. But once a teen turns eighteen, they are untouchable. They are safe, and have to be left alone. They can no longer be unwound. This is exactly what Connor, Risa, and Lev are hoping for.

Connor is sixteen years old and is a reckless boy. According to his parents, there have been too many incidents where he has caused trouble, and they’re fed up with it. So now he’s being unwound. Risa lives at Ohio State Home 23 and she’s an Unwind too. She’s fifteen, but when administrators don’t see a future for her they decide to have her unwound. It’s nothing personal, they just have to cut back the number of kids in state homes. And there’s Levi, who you can call Lev. He’s only thirteen, nevertheless he’s being unwound too. But Lev isn’t an Unwind, no, he’s a tithe. Basically, he has been preparing for this moment his entire life because he was born to be unwound. But what do these three teens all have in common? They are not going to accept being unwound. How can they escape the system? Will they survive until they are each eighteen years old, and if so, what next? Neal Shusterman reveals all in this heart-wrenching story, Unwind!

I was blown away by the audacity of this book! Not only were the plot and characters bold, but the idea for this book was so out there! Which I definitely liked. Who would write about bodies being stripped from teens in a world where people thought that this was humane? Well, Neal Shusterman did. I thought that this story was far off, yet very real at the same time. It seems like this could never happen, but at the same time, maybe it could?

This book is a fantastic tale that many teens can relate to. Unwind shows that we have it easy. In this alternate world, if we did all of the things we do now to upset our parents, we could be unwound. Just like that. I suggest that this book is more for teens thirteen years old and up, as some parts can be very intense and scary for younger readers.

One thing that I liked very much was the point of view that Unwind was told in. Instead of only seeing through the eyes of one character, the story was told through many various characters. Some vital, and some just in the background. However, each character’s perspective was necessary, as it all came together in the end. I needed one to complete the other, and make a full circle. I thought that this was done in a way that ended up bringing the whole story together.

Although I enjoyed the way the story was told very much, I felt that the length of this book could have been longer. It isn’t a small book, but it isn’t a big one either. As I read Unwind I felt that it could have elaborated more on certain parts to make more sense or provide more detail and clarity. Also, I hope to see a sequel to Unwind, as I don’t think that Connor, Risa, and Lev’s stories are over just yet.

Speaking of Connor, Risa, and Lev, I loved the characters. They each had such unique personalities and opinions. I also enjoyed watching each of them realize what they really wanted in life, now that they have had a taste of what it was like to almost have it taken from them. Even though it was a struggle much of the time, the three of them worked together to pull through.

On the whole, Unwind was a vibrant book that showed the true will and determination that one may take to preserve one’s own life. Connor, Risa, Lev, and many others, learn this first-hand as they run to save their lives and their bodies. Join three determined teens as they escape from what was, and start anew in the vigorous tale, Unwind!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out the Unwind website at
Unwind is available from Amazon here.


  1. Oooooh another one of my favorites! This is one of my go to books to recommend to teens. The fact that a teen can do one thing wrong and their parents can have them unwound blows most teens' minds. Definitely one of my favorite dystopian books!

  2. Yes, I would have to say that I am one of those teens who had their mind blown when I realized that, in the Unwind world, teens could be unwound! Neal Shusterman presents a very scary, but plausible, world. I can't wait to read some of his other books!

  3. This sounds like such an interesting read! creepy... but interesting! i think I shall add it to my HUGE TBR pile :)

  4. I thought that it was really creepy when I looked at it in the bookstore. But after some thought, I decided to get it. The book isn't too scary. I must say that the idea of being unwound is still unsettling to me though.


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