Kelli Lee's Reviews > Unwind

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
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Apr 01, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, dystopian, young-adult
Read from March 25 to 31, 2011

Unwind had me from the get-go.

I immediately loved the protagonists - Connor and Risa. Connor was a burden to his “parents”. To me, he was the typical, precocious teenager. But once he displayed true grit, which occurred soon after his introduction, he morphed into a leader, surpassing the typical teenager role. I loved how he refused to accept his so-called fate.

Then we have Lev, a tithe. I immensely disliked him. Yet, he was as he was - a product of his parents in all their ignorant-lemming glory. However, my love for him blossomed over the course of his journey. (view spoiler)

And then we have Risa - merely a ward of the state, a nothing in “their” eyes, an extra mouth to feed. It didn’t matter that she was a piano-playing virtuoso. It didn’t matter that she was a good girl, kept her chin up and did what she was told. Her fate was sealed all because an extra bed was needed in the orphanage, so as a result, her Unwinding papers were signed and off she went to Unwind camp.

What is Unwind camp/Chop Shop or officially titled: Happy Jack Harvest Camp? It’s where children’s body parts are harvested. It’s situated in the idyllic setting of northern Arizona, surrounded by majestic trees and mountains as far as the eye can see. So typical, right? Let’s take something so unethical, cruel, unconstitutional, anti-spiritual, and as long as it’s placed in bucolic surroundings smattered with happy, soothing paints colors - all the aforementioned totally disguises the hell that lies beyond its gates. NOT! Only if you’re a sheople, maybe!

And finally, we have Roland.
Before I get to him. Throughout the heart-wrenching reading experience that was Unwind, a quote from one of my favorite movies Ever After kept flittering through my mind. The quote was recited by Drew Barrymore’s character, and it pertained to her favorite tome Utopia. So here goes: “A servant is not a thief, Your Highness . . . and those who are cannot help themselves. If you suffer your people to be ill-educated and their manners corrupted from infancy . . . then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them what else is to be concluded, Sire . . . but that you first make thieves and then punish them?”

This brilliantly sums up my thoughts/feelings for Roland. This particular character, though not one of the protagonists, stole my heart. Maybe this places me in the minority, but my guess is it doesn’t. As stated before, although I grew fond of all the protagonists, my tears, and there were many, were shed for Roland. He, like so many, are misunderstood, thusly treated as misfits where society prejudges them and he pays the price. This innocent child was made to be viewed as a cold-blooded killer. And I had moments of guilt for buying into the belief. Guilty as charged. (view spoiler)

Unwind shines a light on the this kind of judgement/behavior. It shines a light on the putrefaction of ethics, morality, compassion, spirituality, human decency, being one with the Universe and all of God’s creatures, and parenting within society. (No, I don’t have an opinion whatsoever!). I felt that it was a brilliant move and incredibly fitting to include an Einstein quote towards the end of the book. This move only endeared Shusterman to me even more. I adore Einstein and everything about him. When asked the question who I would most like to have a confab with from history, Einstein has and always will be my choice.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t touch upon the controversial, infamous scene where readers are taken into the Unwinding room and thus are privy to the horrific, heart-wrenching process of let’s just call it murder. I understand why the author included this, but at the same time I hated it. I want happy endings. Why? Because life is overflowing with cruelty, pain, injustice, and crippling sadness, especially as of late. Just turn on the news and you're inundated with terror, death, and destruction. So I turn to movies and books to read about happily-ever-afters that are seriously lacking in life. I certainly didn’t exactly receive that wish with Unwind, but nonetheless, it was an amazing book. At times a tearjerker and hard to read, yes, but, in my eyes, amazing and thought-provoking. My impassioned response and the resultant tears highlight how much this book impacted me, how involved I was with the characters and story, and how awesome a writer Neal Shusterman is.

It is my recommendation for everyone to read this novel.
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Reading Progress

03/28/2011 page 86
26.0% "This book is hard to put down"
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Not liking the infamous end of the book chapter? I cried too much after that chapter as well. It was so sad.


Kelli Lee Yeah, umm, wow! Talk about upsetting, depressing, heart-wrenching. I could go on but you obviously feel/felt the same way. It's tragically horrible!


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Kelly wrote: "Yeah, umm, wow! Talk about upsetting, depressing, heart-wrenching. I could go on but you obviously feel/felt the same way. It's tragically horrible!"

I know. It's one of those books you can't easily explain but you want everyone to experience.


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