Friday, 5 July 2013

Unwind - Neal Shusterman [Review]

This review may contain spoilers.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books
Series: Unwind #1
Release Date: November 6th 2007
Pages: 335
Rating: ★★★


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.


This book had been on my TBR list for ages, but I just never got to it. I finally decided to start reading and I was not at all disappointed!

In the dystopian society of Unwind, when a child reaches the age of 13 their parents or guardians can choose to have them "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. The story centers around three teens whose paths cross on their way to being unwound--Connor who is too much trouble for his parents to handle, Risa who is a ward of the state not talented enough to be kept alive, and Lev who is a "tithe," or a child who is to be sacrificed by his religious parents. Together they struggle to stay alive and not to be caught to be unwound.

I liked the different POV's in the book. Lev, Connor and Risa all had their own voices and personalities and gave a different view of the situation, because they all had different backgrounds. The POV changed per chapter, so no confusion there. Sometimes other people suddenly became a one-time POV, I thought this did not really add anything to the story.
I did have to get into the whole third-person style. It disconnected me from the characters and to me it looks unnatural. But fortunately I got used to it quickly, but I'd have prefered reading the book in first-person.

I won't say too much about it, but I loved the story line. It was fast paced and I never got bored, because of the constant twists. Bit by bit things are puzzled out and the reader gets new information. The three main characters were constantly moving from place to place and they meet new persons, that way the reader comes to know a lot in a short time.

I absolutely loved the concept of the Unwinding (the dystopian element in the book). The concept is super creepy and disturbing and maybe a bit illogical if you think about it, but the writer made it believable. It just seems sick that parents would do that to their child, but if we look at our own history, is it really unthinkable? I liked that the reader finds out more and more about this concept (like the muscle memory stuff) throughout the book and even is shown an Unwinding. The last was one of the most creepy scenes ever, not because it was graphic, precisely because it wasn't and you had to use your own imagination. The Unwinding concept has much depth and the writer makes it seem realistic.
I thought the concept was most of all sad, because all the children in the book being
Unwound were not a problem: they were just unwanted and they had to pay the price for that. The whole Unwinding concept makes you think about abortion and the ethics of it.

There were many characters in this book and most of them were surprisingly well developed. They all had their own stories and secrets and added something to the story.

I am not really sure I liked the main characters. They did not irritate me or anything, but I also did not connect with them.

Connor is at first described as a problematic boy, a bit of a bad boy actually. But actually apart from a short temper, he wasn't problematic at all. He seemed like a good leader and a nice person.
Lev is the one with the biggest character development. He goes from accepting his faith as a tithe to rebellious teenager. I'm not sure I like him better at the end, but it was interesting to see him change his mind about ideas fed to him his whole life.
Risa was a strong girl who adapted easily to bad situations and stands her ground. I liked that her relationship with Connor did not change her character and that it did not overshadow her storyline.

Nothing wrong with them, but again, I did not really feel a connection. Perhaps that had to do with the third-person narrative.

The book was thought-provoking, disturbing and quite sad. The Unwind concept was very well developed and the story was captivating. A definite recommendation!

Stars: 4 out of 5


  1. Wow, the concept for this book really does sound thought-provoking. It totally got me when it said "unwound, whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end." Great review, thanks for sharing. :)

  2. This is one of my favorite books! I'm glad you liked it.

  3. I loved Unwind. That scene that you referred to was TERRIFYING on audio! I cringed the whole way through it and had to take a break from listening. I thought for sure it would give me nightmares. It definitely made the book unforgettable. Every time I see this title pop up, my mind goes straight to that scene. Kind of like the "tiny fingers" scene in Rhainnon Frater's As the World Dies book. I'm a new Bloglovin follower

    Donna @ The Happy Booker

  4. I've never heard of this one till now, and I'm still not sure if want to read it because it sounds so dramatic and yeah, creepy. I'm not into dark reads, but this one sounds like a helluva lot of interesting! The concept of Unwinding's not new to me (if you liked this one, I recommend Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, unless you've read that one too), but I think I'd want to know how the characters got over the struggles and fought for their lives. They seem strong and I like that. Great review!

  5. I kind of agree with you that the secondary characters were the ones that gave the most impact. At least to me they were. Not to say the three heroes were useless, but I felt for one of the secondary characters more (;-; his scene made me cry). Glad to see that you loved it! I haven't read the sequel yes because I'm scared (hahaha), but hopefully some day ;)

    Faye @ The Social Potato Reviews

  6. I LOVED Unwind! I liked all of the characters well enough I guess, Except for Lev. I guess I found his POV boring for a long time before things took off for him.

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  7. This book didn't impact me as much as I'd thought it would, but it was a good read nonetheless. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the books in the series!
    Here's the full review on my blog:


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