Unwind by Neal Shusterman
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Connor, Risa and Lev are running for their lives.
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. Connors is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not 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.
This book seriously messed me up. In a good way, but still. I was left reeling after this book. I almost didn’t believe that it could actually be considered a young adult novel. There was no way. But then I really thought about it, and I thought, Neal is writing to teenagers who are the future voters, who get to decide how things play out so if there’s anyone to write to about a touchy subject, its teenagers. They are the ones with the open minds, and the readiness to learn and the ability to see things outside their own boxes. So it makes sense.
Neal takes the ridiculously controversial and highly debated subject of abortion and turns it into something…well, something almost sick, in my head. I am both pro-choice and pro-life, but more pro-choice than anything else. Without getting to much into my own politics, I think that the law should be pro-choice because each woman should have their own beliefs and decisions over their own bodies. I also think a man has no right to tell a woman to do with her body. That being said, the way that Neal presents it in the world of Unwind is just…it really puts a lot of things in perspective and it really can give someone something to think about, no matter what side you’re on. I think he presents a solution that is so ridiculous that it makes you realize that this fight we are having constantly over this is ridiculous. No one is ever fully going to be satisfied and if we try to satisfy everyone, we could end up with a situation like in Unwind.
You see, in Unwind, instead of having abortion legal for a pregnant woman, it is completely illegal. If you find yourself pregnant and having a baby that you do not want, or cannot care for, you can leave it on a doorstep. The person, or people, living at that house are now legally responsible for that child, a so called “storked” baby. However, if parents choose to, they can have their child unwound between the ages of 12 and 18. The outside story is that each body part is harvested to be used as organ donations and you will not be dead, but living in a divided state. The reality of it is, yes, every single bit of your body will be used in some way, but you are dead, no matter how scattered your body parts are. Its no wonder that Connor and Risa runaway to avoid this.
You get too different points of view in the story. You have Connor and Risa, both who are being forced to be unwound and have no desire to be. Connor is a troublesome child, and so as a last resort bit of parenting (which is common), his parents elect to have him unwound. Risa is a ward of the state, and when she basically can’t prove her worth in living, she is elected to be unwound to make more room for wards. These are two teenagers are being unwound basically as failures. They weren’t good enough in the eyes of some people and therefore are decided to be better off in a “divided state”. Imagine that. Imagine knowing that you were unwanted as a teenager. You already feel enough emotions and insecurities without being told that you ‘re just better off NOT living.
You also get the point of Lev, who is a tithe. Tithes are through religion, taught that they were born of God’s will to be unwound (or tithed, because it sounds better) and be in a divided state, helping out others in need. Lev is raised his entire life to believe this and welcomes his day with pleasure and happiness. He is absolutely pissed when his plans change, because of Connor, and will do pretty much anything to get back to where he needs to be, to be tithed. His plans change but to see inside the mind of that, its just emotional. Its emotional to see both sides, both those who are trained to believe that it is the right thing to do and those who dread it with everything because it means that they failed.
There is a part of the book, where you are in the point of view of someone who is being unwound, and that entire scene just got to me. I was an emotional wreck. It was so emotional and heartbreaking and it was the best scene of the book because of the way it makes you feel. You’d have to have a heart of steel not to feel anything when that scene is taking place. It made me want to shake people, on both sides, like “Please, lets keep this the way it is, please, let’s not make this fight more ridiculous than it already is”. That scene killed me, and is the one that stood out the most to me.
So now that this “short” review has gotten out of hand, I basically want to say that it is a beautifully written novel with a world that we don’t see in any other book. Neal is unique in that respect and he really brings forth a novel that is both thought provoking and full of action and romance and emotion and its a book that you find yourself speeding through because its just too much to handle. I seriously recommend this to anyone, not just teenagers because it really gets you to think. I admire an author that can leave you reeling and thinking for days (for me, weeks) after reading the book.
5 out of 5 Stars
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