Unwind by Neal Shusterman // Disturbing and Exciting

Unwind by Neal Shusterman // Disturbing and ExcitingUnwind (Unwind, #1) by Neal Shusterman
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 6th 2007
Genres: Dystopian (YA)
Pages: 335
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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. Connor 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.


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This one surprised me. Going into it, I did not expect much. To be honest, the premise doesn’t even make sense and would not work in the real world. But, guess what? It’s a work of fiction! So, it doesn’t have to make sense.

The extremes Shusterman went toย solve the “pro-life v pro-choice” war in his world are very elaborate. The story was exciting and intriguing. It kept moving, with rarely a dull moment. Also, lots of “what the eff” and “shut the front door” moments!ย 


The story is told from three main perspectives: Lev, Connor, and Risa. (There are a few side perspectives, but I’ll get to that later). I enjoyed each character. I liked their backgrounds and personalities, each of them was very different from the other.

However, sometimes the change of perspective meant a lack of focus on character development. This is mainly seen in Lev. His character takes the backseat for a while and when he arrives again, he’s a completely different person and we’re told (literally) that it doesn’t matter where he’s been, just where he is now.

That was a little disappointing, especially since his character is the one that goes through the most change.

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There was nothing particularly special about the writing, but it was fast-paced. Also, on top of the three main perspectives, the author included a few chapters here and there that showed a different (or outsiders) point of view. For example, there is a scene in which a cop is chasing a character – instead of showing the perspective of the chased, you get the perspective of the cop.

At first, this was a little odd for me, but by the end, it’s something I enjoyed. It gave a quick glimpse of what was happening outside of the main characters.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this and will probably continue the series later on. While I wished for more attention to certain characters’ development, I still think Shusterman did a fantastic job at showing the changes of his three main characters. He also touched on a lot of very controversial topics in this novel, from abortion to adoption, with some disturbing scenes that definitely make you question humanity.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.5 / 5

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12 thoughts on “Unwind by Neal Shusterman // Disturbing and Exciting

  1. You finished the book! I just finished parts I & II ๐Ÿ˜› Are you posting in the GR discussion group? I know it’s a bit dead there ha! But you should! There are a lot of thought-provoking themes to talk about here; that’s for sure!

      1. The book didn’t grip me at first, but after finishing part II, I was left agape! What in the world is “the graveyard!?” I’m wrapping up Shadow & Bone right now (wholly immersed to say the least), but once I’m done, I’m planning on diving back in and wrapping up Unwind ๐Ÿ™‚

        I look forward to your discussion post over at GR!

        1. I kind of felt the same. It was like a “wtf” sort of feeling in the beginning. I’ll be updating all my GR stuff today so I should be making it over to add a bit to the discussion. I’m horrible with GR lol

  2. Ooh this sounds like one of those books that would freak me out a little but I’m also intrigued and curious about the story. Glad you enjoyed it, in any case!

    1. It is a little weird! The whole “unwinding” thing is a bit out there and will affect you depending on what you believe about death and what not. So, yeah, kind of a “deep” book – super unexpected!

  3. Ahhh this book TERRIFIED me! ๐Ÿ˜€ I read it a few years back so I barely remember it…but I was SO freaked at the end. particularly the unwinding of That Certain Person. And the ARM?!?! THE ARRRRM. I nearly shrieked. XD hehe. This review definitely makes me realise I NEED to reread! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. I can definitely see how it could have terrified you! That scene was a bit weird. OMG AND YES the arm! I kind of thought it was an interesting twist of “karma” (but not exactly karma lol)

  4. I finally started reading this last night and I am really enjoying it way more than I expected to! It’s completely insane so far and, you’re right, the laws make no sense! I’m guessing that must work itself out though? I’m excited to see where it goes!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. I mean, it just depends on how you view death. I wouldn’t really say having your body parts all over the place is “being alive” lol xD

  5. YAY I am so glad you enjoyed (is enjoyed even the right word? You know what I mean!) this book! I made my mom read it and she was like “WHAT did I just read and why was it so messed up and good?” hahhaha. I love Neal Shusterman’s work, because he has to be a genius- who could take such a messed up concept and make it work like this!? I love this series so much! I hope you continue to… enjoy/not enjoy it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. It was SO good! I went into it so skeptical, it was my book clubs BOTM. But I LOVED it. I will definitely continue on with the series someday ๐Ÿ™‚