Saturday, August 28, 2010

UNWIND by Neal Shusterman -- Book Review

I think I’ll remember this book for a while for I was utterly disturbed by it….in a good way.

Unwind is a story set in a future that is a little (or a lot?) different from what we perceive. In this future, the Bill of Life exists. This provides that when children reach the ages between thirteen to eighteen, their parents could decide to unwind them, meaning, they are to be brought to “harvest camps” where each of their organs are taken for reuse of those who needed transplants. It is like abortion in later life, and in Shusterman’s created world—it is legal.

The story centers on three teens set to be unwound: Connor, being a little pain for his parents, was decided to be unwound; Risa, a ward of the state, has been seen as a little less talented to be kept alive; and lastly, Lev, a kid who has prepared all his life to be unwound for he is a tithe—a child born to be unwound. These three will meet at points of their lives that they did not expect. . . .making much more unexpected things to happen.

What future awaits these three? Can they escape their destiny? And to settle things: is Unwinding right, or wrong?


My Review:

Never knew unwinding can be this disturbing.

What I meant by the word disturbing is that it did disturb my senses, to be precise, my thoughts. The book makes the gears on one’s mind (maybe even the heart) tinkering and rotating. We are brought to a world where life is questionably less valuable than it is today—a future that may be seen as a little dysfunctional, and distraught.

Where does beauty in life come in a place like this?

Issues of today, such as Pro-choice vs. Pro-life, are virtually and pivotally present in Unwind. Shusterman did a great job in putting up faces to these phenomena that he exemplary realized in his own book. The book won’t preach on the rightness or wrongness of things instead it depicts causes and effects that will help readers decide for themselves as to what to believe.

Connor, Risa, and Lev are just the icing on the top of the cake. There are more to this book than the lives of the main characters. The minor characters also present dimensions that give the book more life, and more depth (my favorite would be Cy-Fi’s story). The people the three meet, the experiences they encounter and the lives that they’ve touched (or lives that touched them too)—these are what made this book worth reading, and worth pondering on. The book did not stay too much on the three main characters but also gave the spotlight to the others and presenting their perspectives. By doing this, the book easily depicted the condition of the world that Shusterman crafted in Unwind, plus it helped to the betterment of the pacing of the book’s story.

Was the story blown out of proportion? Yes. That is why it lacks authenticity. But what it did is that by doing so, it got the desired effect. The characters’ experiences are amplified to give more impact to the readers, making them realize that we’re not on a perfect world yet doesn’t start to sound too preachy. Characters speak for themselves, their voices coated with life’s lessons. The world is not presented in black and white, there are gray areas to where the readers are taken. Gray areas where the readers would most likely love to indulge and linger to.

The lessons present in the book can be pertained for the young readers and to adults as well. But it is very much obvious that this particular book is targeted for the young adults, though others would still definitely love to read this as well.

The book holds up until the end. It gave closure to the wonderful story, but not the issue (not on the book, but on life in general). Beyond the story, the action, the adventures is a story of life. Readers would not be able to stop themselves from thinking and assessing how they see the world as they flip the pages of this Young Adult book. Add well and fast pacing to those, and you got a great book called Unwind!


Unwind presented effective characterizations and lessons that easily buried the book’s other flaws.


If you are interested in purchasing this book:


  1. Neal Shusterman is working on a sequel to this book called Unwholly! Prepare for it!

  2. Really? Haven't heard about that one! But now I'm really looking forward for it! :D Thanks for commenting!