Lani's Reviews > Unwind

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
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's review
May 09, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: author-american, author-male, dystopian, horror, series, setting-location-united-states, setting-time-period-future, thriller, young-adult
Read from July 03 to 04, 2012


I've been hearing about this book for years now and I decided I would finally get around to reading it (well, listening to it). Knowing the summary I was a little iffy on whether or not I thought the concept was even plausible. I like dystopian fiction where I can see how society might just get to that point but this one was just too outlandish.

In the first chapter it describes how pro-life and pro-choice groups fought a civil war that ended with the compromise that fetuses cannot be aborted but 13-17 year old kids can be harvested.

Nope, sorry, not buying it. The whole point of the pro-choice movement is that a person should have the right to medical decisions about their own. They would never agree to force women to remain pregnant and have teenagers harvested. It just isn't plausible.

I suppose the pro-life side might see it as somewhat of a compromise since it forces women to sacrifice their lives for a fetus and forces kids to sacrifice their lives for "the good of society" or something like that.

Ok the pro-life side is partly in jest (but not much). I still don't buy that the pro-life side would agree to killing teenagers. If they think a fetus should have rights I doubt they would then let the government actually murder people (oh wait, the death penalty). Ok now I'm just dissolving into a rant about "pro-lifers."

The world building on top of that was really weak. There isn't any description of the way society has changed other than unwinding. The technology all seems the same and in general society seems to function the same way except for unwinding. Just lazy world building, but perhaps there will be more of that in the rest of the series.

All of the characters had excellent development however. Conner is hot-headed but manages to keep in under control as the book progresses. Risa has a lot of street-smarts that helped them out along the way. Levi with his naivete blossoming into bitterness and blossoming on from there as well. Even the "bad guys" (none of them are super threatening, that's the unwinding, but they are there for some tension scenes) are well developed. Roland is a roller coaster of awful and not so bad. Mostly he's just selfish and wants to make sure he stays alive while retaining some sense of power. I like bad guys that aren't flat out evil and have some sort of explanation behind why they're that way instead of being evil just because there needs to be an evil character.

The romance was pretty realistic as well. It doesn't happen while they're on the run and stressed out constantly like a lot of romances seem to happen. Their romantic relationship didn't form until they were a bit more settled and not worried about being caught from day to day. And there aren't any proclamations of love after 2 days or a love triangle! Rare in YA fiction.

Ok, so the plot wasn't really doing it for me but I figured I'd give it a shot anyway. Up until the end it was hovering around 2 stars. It was just ok. Certainly enjoyable enough with good character development and easy to read but nothing that particularly wowed me.

The end really brought up my rating though. The part where (view spoiler) was the most horrifying thing I've ever read. I sobbed the whole way through and (view spoiler). Easily one of the most horrifying scenes I've ever read. I don't know how medically sound it was, but I don't even care. It definitely had the effect it was supposed to have on me.

I enjoyed the ending at (view spoiler) as well. I wasn't sure if they would actually go through with it or not.

Oh! And the thing with (view spoiler) was so sad but kind of sweet in a pretty creepy way. I cried again at that point too.

So basically the end brought it up from a 2 star book to a 3.5 star book. And I probably should have just put this whole review behind spoilers with the amount of spoiler tags I ended up using but oh well

I'll definitely be continuing the series. I want to see where it goes next, presumably to an uprising (it is a dystopian novel after all) but Shusterman may surprise me.

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