I've always been an emotional reader, so besides being a review, this will also be a personal reflection of the book. My initial feelings of the firs I've always been an emotional reader, so besides being a review, this will also be a personal reflection of the book. My initial feelings of the first few chapters were pretty good. The action was fast-paced (in a good way), and the characters were likable. What really made the whole book shine, and not just the beginning, was really the concept of being unwound, and how well-developed Shusterman's world was. The laws associated with the concept were very realistic, making the book that much more thought-provoking
There were some very provocative questions raised in the book, and they were raised appropriately and well-thought without being too annoyingly blatant and condescending. I can tell that Shusterman really put in effort to write a well-thought out story without preaching. He certainly succeeded in creating an original, 3-dimensional world with some real characters you can relate with. Those qualities alone makes this book worth a read.
As you can see, however, I didn't give the book high ratings. Why? Well from this point there might be a few very vague spoilers, so read at your own peril (if you haven't read/finished the book yet).
First and foremost, I had some issues with the portrayal of some characters. It was a very bold and creative way in which Shusterman decided to go about narrating the story. The narration jumped around and told the story from various different perspectives, and even jumped to different events that were happening at different locations. The narration succeeded in broadening the horizons of the world, meaning as the reader, I could really look at the whole unwinding concept from various different angles, which ultimately made everything more multi-dimensional. I hate stories where a thought-provoking idea is completely ruined by lack of the depth Shusterman attempted to illustrate. Nevertheless, the narration did create some heavy problems that really ruined certain things for me personally. First of all, I felt like the action far outweighed the characterization (not necessarily bad in a normal book, but in this case I felt like I needed to look at it at a higher caliber), and though the main characters weren't one-dimensional or annoying, I just couldn't become that emotionally attached. They were realistic, but not real, if that makes any sense. I couldn't feel them. Eventually in the book, each main character just felt like a carefully crafted tool created to manipulate me to feel certain emotions Shusterman wanted me to feel, and instead of being greatly emotionally affected, occasionally I felt mildly annoyed, because I'm just extremely sensitive to being overly-manipulated in books. (All books manipulate the reader to some extent, but some do it better). Though the attempt at depth did not fail, it didn't succeed in creating memorable characters that I loved. I think the few times I felt annoyed wouldn't have really mattered if it wasn't for the fact at how some others characters were portrayed, though.
There were some very strong side-characters, but not all of them were well-written. One thing that really irked me were how the law enforcers were portrayed: as in every one of them felt like one-dimensional shadows of what they could have been. They were all bullies, and more than a few of the officers enjoyed tormenting the kids being unwound. There was even a short passage in the perspective of an officer. I was expecting with anticipation the portrayal of a complex human being who has succumbed into this role acceptingly, and had to reassure himself many times that what he was doing was right. Instead, what I got was a character who thought all the kids being unwound deserved it, and took pleasure and pride in his job. Sure, I felt disgusted, but more than that I was disappointed. Shusterman certainly succeeded in making me dislike the officer, but I think the story could have had that much more impact if the reader read about a normal, well-intentioned character who simply went along with the system out of convenience or some other logical explanation instead of an immature, stupid, and badly-developed adult who was intentionally developed as a detestable imbecile. Then later, the same character type appeared again, more than twice, and guess what? They were both law enforcers. I can certainly see how difficult it would be to portray anyone who could just accept a law that ripped children apart and enforce it, but demonizing practically everyone who enforced the law, again, made those supposed "characters" become devices used by the author to manipulate the audience, and it ruined the experience for me. Instead of the shock and horror I could have felt reading about such a world, it was all too easy to just blame everything on buttholes like the law-enforcers. By all means, some characters, like the surgeons at the end were portrayed with decency, but for the most part, if Shusterman wanted to create a multi-dimensional world with multi-dimensional protagonists, then he shouldn't have created such weak and annoying antagonists.
I can't help but feel tired and frustrated at the end of the book. I didn't need to be manipulated into liking the main characters, or being manipulated into hating the antagonists. I would have liked all of them just fine, but instead being manipulated only made me want to dislike the protagonists and feel disgusted at the stupidity of the officers. I felt frustrated because the book had so much potential. So much things were done well by Mr. Shusterman, and it could have been something amazing. Instead, my hopes were ultimately shot down hard.
Now, these flaws don't mean I regret reading the book. In fact, I think everyone should take the time to add Unwind to their book-lists. I just feel like any reader should be warned of the manipulations embedded throughout. The fact I'm taking the time to review the book means I respect it very much and think it deserves to be reviewed at a high level of expectation....more