Sunday, July 5, 2009

BR: Unwind

by Neal Shusterman

Unwind is a futuristic novel about a time when there is a law called the "Bill of Life". The Bill of Life was the result of the Second Civil War, and deals with opposing issues regarding reproductive rights. Unwinding is the process where a person's organs (like every single part of their body) is "cut up" and transplanted to someone who needs it. This way, people comfort themselves in thinking that the kids don't really die, they are just living "separately". A child age 1-13 cannot be unwound, but between 13 and 17, the kid's parents can choose to have him or her unwound if parenting gets too tough. If the child is a ward of State (like an orphan), the ward can also have children unwound. When the child is 18, they become an adult, and are safe from unwinding-so those kids who are sentenced struggle to live till that age.

Connor, a troublemaker, has been sentenced to be unwound. Risa, a talented pianist as well, and Lev, who is a tithe (someone who is born to be unwound to 'help' others) also awaits unwinding. However, all three don't want it, so they escape the police, and go into hiding. Along the way, Lev is separated, and the two 'groups' begin their own adventure and escape for their lives.

This novel was excellent, and I stayed up late finishing it. It was fast-paced, but flips between 'focuses' (not POV, since it is in third-person; just concentrates on one person in particular), so I would be left to eagerly wait for Connor's story while I am reading Lev's. I felt the author had some really original ideas, which deals with serious issues that can relate to arguments today. Sides must be taken in a war driven by opposing opinions, and the solution is far from perfect or ideal. Unwinding is basically abortion, except at a later age, and I can really sympathize for the characters who have been sentenced by their parents to this fate, with no say of their own.

Also, I absolutely loved Connor and Risa. I don't know why, but I love the image the Connor exhibits, with the quick-tempered, tough attitude and not taking any crap from anyone. He gets into quite a few fights, but I felt that that just makes him a stronger character. Risa, who has never really had anyone every love her since she is from a State Home is strong, quick, and smart. I admire these qualities about her, and how strong her will is to survive.

I also liked the novel's minor characters, who have their own stories to tell, which I enjoyed reading. An example is an Unwind, Hayden, who's parents are divorcing, and they cannot stand the idea of Hayden going to the other parent, so they agree they would rather have him unwound than with the other. Spiteful much?

However, I did have some nitpicks about the book. First, the ending for me was kind of rushed, and a tad confusing, like during the Chop Shop scene (but maybe that's because it was 1 in the morning). Also, the flipping focuses could be a bit distracting, especially when I am so caught up in another character's story, but maybe that's just me. ***spoiler below***


I also felt that Connor and Risa's romance wasn't developed very well. They have good chemistry, but they never really talk or spend that much time together, especially at the Graveyard. Sure, they're desperate to live and all that, and their scenes together were great, but I felt more could have happened to them together.

**end spoiler**

9.1/10- because I really liked this novel, with the original plot and realistic characters. It makes me think about the issues discussed, and is written quite well. It reminds me a bit of Jodi Picoult books, with the different chapters flipping to different 'focuses', but the chapters are quite short, and just tell what is going on.

I would recommend this book to all readers. It can be used for school if you want to write a paper concerning issues raised in the book. Excellent plot, decent writing. The ending is a bit vague, but really leaves it up to the reader's imagination and thoughts. Not concrete, but enough to have an inkling of what might have happened. I really like the issues it was based on, with the Unwinding, choices, life, and 'death'.


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