Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Review: UNWIND by Neal Shusterman

I read a lot of books.  Or it's more accurate to say I start to read a lot of books.  But sometimes the story doesn't keep my attention, or the idea has already been done a dozen times before, and I stop.

So it was refreshing to read a novel packed with new ideas.  Not themes.  Ideas.  Ideas that make you think.  Here's Shusterman's blurb from the back of UNWIND:

"The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights.  The chilling resolution:  Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen.  Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child 'unwound,' whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end.  Connor is too difficult for his parents to control.  Risa, a ward of the state, is not talented enough to be kept alive.  And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound.  Together, they may have a chance to escape--and to survive."

Most novels that use their characters and plot as simple vessels for their ideas aren't much fun to read.  They get preachy because the author clubs you over the head with their agenda.

UNWIND is fun to read.  The characters matter.  It reminds me of the best of the old school of science fiction, where writers like Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury explored new avenues and provoked thought and discussion.

When an author is able to blend ideas and entertainment with a fresh approach, I think they're working at a high level.  Yet UNWIND is an accessible read, with characters people can relate to.

If the description above intrigues you, give UNWIND a try.

(Thanks to my friend Shannon for telling me about this book, and then loaning me her copy.)


  1. Thanks for the recommendation! If you liked the subject of young people being used for organ harvesting, another book that brings up right to life (and human cloning) questions is "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro. I liked that one, so this one intrigues me...may have to add to the summer reading list.

  2. Thank you for commenting--I'm sure readers will be interested in Ishiguro's book.