Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unwind - Neal Shusterman

Since the last two books reviewed were more girl/type, I said to myself, 'What about those handsome young men who read this blog?  Surely, they would like to see something that does not involve girly romance!'

Thus, I give you Unwind.

This book is not very romantic. This book is about a dystopian future world in which parents can have their children 'unwound' at age 13, meaning, 'hey, we don't like you, we're going to donate all your body parts to people who are better than you.'
This also happens often to orphan children, and some religious families have a child as a 'tithe,' meaning that that child is their sacrifice to the greater good.

The logic behind doing this is very odd.  There was a civil war in which everyone fought over whether abortion should be legal or not, and the compromise came out to be, 'You cannot abort a baby, but if between the ages of 13 and 18 you decide your child isn't worth the effort, we can have ALL their body parts taken apart and given to other people.'  However, the child does not technically die; they are all kept alive while their parts are harvested.  Yes there is some pain killing involved, but still, it is pretty unpleasant.

Since no one can abort their babies, a lot of poor mothers who do not want their babies leave them on doorsteps, and if you find one on your doorstep, you are required by law to take it in and raise it like your own child.

This is somewhat problematic, as you will see when you read this book.

The main characters in this book are Connor and Risa, both of whom are on the run.  Risa is a ward of the state and Connor is a disappointment to his family.  Another important character is Lev, a tithe who ends up on the run with Connor and Risa even though he believes in being unwound for the greater good.  Lev causes them some problems because of this, but they all do end up crossing paths over and over again, even though Lev has a tendency to run off.

They meet lots of other Unwinds, as they are called, and their stories are all interesting and they all intertwine.  Stories about parents who have their child unwound, only to decide later that they didn't want their child unwound after all haunt the population.

It is also interesting to see how the 'compromise' of unwinding came to be, but I won't tell you that because it's a spoiler and an important one when it comes to the meaning of this book.

There is a lot of great action in this story.  It also gives you a lot to think about considering that the war was fought over abortion rights, which is a a rather controversial subject.  However, Shusterman does not get preachy about it like many authors would, and he does not go forth and make plain that he is either pro-life or pro-choice.  Instead, he makes you think about how people should deal with their differences, which is something that all of us, really, need to consider.

While some people may find this book too touchy a subject, there is a lot to be gained from it, and if you can handle the thought of being harvested for body parts, you really ought to read it because it is very rewarding and thought-provoking.

Shusterman is a pretty popular young adult author and has been nominated for some awards.  He also writes screenplays.  Another one of his most popular books is Everlost (The Skinjacker Trilogy).

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