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Unwind (Unwind, #1)
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Book Club Discussions > June 2011- Unwind by Neal Shusterman

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message 1: by Jennifer W, WT Co-Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennifer W | 1069 comments Mod
Use this thread to discuss Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Please mark spoilers.


Amy | 1929 comments Loved this book! For some reason I thought we had previously read this book. But I enjoyed the concept of unwinding. Something different than I had ever read in a sci fi book before.


Jeanette Johnson | 22 comments It was great. I like most of Shusterman's work. The concept of being unwound is truly disturbing. It's one of those books that really stayed with me after I finished reading it. Bruiser is another favorite of mine by Shusterman.


Amy | 1929 comments I have Everwild to read. Hoping I like it as much as Unwind.


message 5: by Angela Sunshine, WT Co-Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angela Sunshine (AngelaSunshine) | 2536 comments Mod
I really liked Unwind also. I think it felt so disturbing to me because it's not that far out of the realm of possibility. Our world is so wacky sometimes...

I gave it to my aunt for her grandson (about 12 y.o. at the time) but she read it first and said it was too dark. I think that's exactly why kids need to read it. They need to look at issues like abortion and organ donation and see what they think about them. They need to THINK period!


Amy | 1929 comments I think it would only work if the parent read it, then the kid and they could discuss. Since most parents aren't willing to discuss the big issues with their kids when they are young, it poses a problem.


Kellyflower | 136 comments This book had one of the most chilling scenes I've ever read in a book.
After borrowing it from the library, reading it, loving it, I bought a copy for myself and I've been loaning it out ever since.

Angela, I don't think our society is that far away from this kind of stuff happening either.
I liked how certain people represented certain aspects of today. Like the "clappers"


Julie S. I'm not sure if this is technically a spoiler, but I'll mark it just in case. (view spoiler)


Amy | 1929 comments Very cool Julie. How did you hide it?


message 10: by Julie (last edited Jun 01, 2011 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Julie S. Look at the thing that says (some html is ok) and click on that. There is an entry towards the bottom of that list that tells how to do spoilers. Put the word spoiler in those pointy brackets, then type your message and end it with /spoiler in the pointy brackets.

If you want to make sure that it worked, you can preview your message before hitting post.


Amy | 1929 comments Awesome thanks. Good to know for the future.


Lee Ann | 7 comments I just started reading Unwind tonight! So far I am finding it very interesting and can't wait to finish it.


Lee Ann | 7 comments Julie wrote: "I'm not sure if this is technically a spoiler, but I'll mark it just in case. [spoilers removed]"

I felt the same way.


Lee Ann | 7 comments This was my first book to read by Neal Shusterman. I really enjoyed the book. It was a book I couldn't put down. I look forward to reading more from this author. Not sure if this is a spoiler but I will mark it anyway. (view spoiler)


Julie S. (view spoiler)


Amy | 1929 comments I agree Julie. It was kind of creepy to me.


Lydia (LoverofInformation) | 594 comments Schusterman is a master in the writing of Unwind! I cannot believe how much of an impact this book had on me. I wrote down several quotes from the book to discuss on my blog. I truly wondered about the idea of selecting political representatives based on one issue, rather than their ability to lead. I just could not stop reading it once I started and will be lookikng for his other books.

I imagine this book as wonderful for a high school ethics/social studies/history class. I think it would be a great take-off point for carefully monitored discussion. I don't think I recommend this book to those under 15 yrs unless they are advanced readers. I totally believe the idea of a parent reading before a child does would be so helpful in developing a child's value, moral and ethical standards. I plan to get my 25 and 27 yr. olds to read this -- knowing us, it should be a lively discussion.

Question: Was it important to the plot to have Roland go through the unwind?


Amy | 1929 comments I think it was important to make the readers understand what exactly it is. You can explain the theory, but going step by step hooked the readers and gave them an emotional tie in.


Julie S. It made the unwinding real. Not just a strange concept in some random science fiction book but real.


Megan (missmegandawn) | 8 comments This novel by Shusterman really made me think. It challenged some ideas I had. I started this book last year and couldn't finish it because it had a dark side to it. I am so glad I finally did. I do wish there was a sequel to the book, I would like to see it play out more. I have also read Bruiser which is another fast and great read by Shusterman.


Lydia (LoverofInformation) | 594 comments My understanding is this is book #1 in a series and the next book is called Unwholly.

Interesting Amy and July. I felt the same way about being real, but I wondered about having the "bully" go thru the process. It kind of rankled me that it was the big bad guy who was given his due.


Amy | 1929 comments In some way it was justice for the bully to go through it. Bullies spend their time terrorizing others. Turn about is fair play.


Cheryl (cawils_99) I have to admit that I still thought it was hard to read even though it was the "bully" getting his due.


message 24: by Angela Sunshine, WT Co-Moderator (last edited Jun 07, 2011 08:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angela Sunshine (AngelaSunshine) | 2536 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I have to admit that I still thought it was hard to read even though it was the "bully" getting his due."

I thought so too.

(view spoiler)


Augusta | 6 comments I'm responding to Lydia's question but the whole thing might be considered a spoiler so I'm hiding it.
(view spoiler)


Augusta | 6 comments Overall, I liked the book. The characters were well-written and I appreciate any book that explores thought-provoking, ethical issues. I really enjoyed the Humpty Dumpty scare story and how it played out (enough said). Connor's story about the storked baby was horrific yet, sadly, entirely believable. The type of complicit people populating his neighborhood are the reason I don't watch television news. I want to click 'like' on the human race's webpage. The other amazing scene is the one with Roland I mention in an earlier post (it's a spoiler) and it's the one that will stay with me from this book. I started reading the book after watching 'Glee' and the guy who plays Finn managed to insert himself as Connor. Not sure if that was the look Shusterman was going for, but that's what Connor now looks like in my mind.

On the flip side, there were a few things I would have liked to know that (unless I missed the references) the author didn't explore. What was the international response to unwinding? If the US had fought a civil war and was left a bit mangled as a result, wouldn't other countries have filled the power vacuum and (depending on which countries filled said vacuum) possibly tried to strong arm the US into changing its policy (like we currently do to other countries in response to human rights issues)? Was there any outcry from the human rights community? Also, the storking reminded me more of a neighborhood game of tag than a legal contract. Shusterman used storking effectively to illustrate his point, but I would have liked to see it fleshed out a bit more to make it more plausible. I apologize if I'm overanalyzing -- I'm writing my own YA dystopian and found myself thinking through a lot of his issues the way I'm thinking through the ones in my own book. One of the reasons I generally try to steer clear of reading the genre at the same time as writing in it! I'm glad I read Unwind, though, and will encourage my teen nieces and nephews to give it a go.


Augusta | 6 comments One more completely inane point, but may include a spoiler so...

(view spoiler)


Amy | 1929 comments To me the storking was kind of disturbing. It was almost as if people were playing games, to get rid of what they didn't want, rather than dealing with a human life.


Lee Ann | 7 comments I was also disturbed by the storking. (view spoiler)


Amy | 1929 comments Just think of how that baby would be treated, knowing they were taken in because it's the law versus being wanted?


Michele | 19 comments I have literally just joined this group because you are discussing this book. I read this book 2 years ago as a part of an assigned reading list. I am a K-5 school librarian. I did NOT purchase this book for my library; I thought it was too much for kids under age 11.

However, I really loved this book. I could not stop reading from almost the first moment I started it. I have recommended it to everyone appropriate. I have just asked my almost 16-year-old to read it. She liked the movie "Never Let Me Go," which I did not not see all of, but was apparently also about taking kids for their organs.

I particularly liked that "Unwind" had an almost holocaust feel to it. The children were all on the run from essentially extermination while being hidden, moved and helped in mysterious ways.

My favorite part of the book is when they are locked in the container in the dark, all the while discussing the nature of life and death. It felt like they were in the womb and then they reborn, getting a new chance at life at the....I cannot remember the name....land of dead airplanes.

I agree that the unwinding needed to happen, and it needed to happen to the person we liked the least. It really illustrates the point that even the worst people do not deserve to be so disregarded. It was horrible to read, and it was the reason I did not recommend it to my daughter 2 years ago. But it works in so many ways.


message 32: by Carolyn (last edited Jun 10, 2011 10:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Carolyn (seeford) | 67 comments Hi Michele!

I loved this book as well, picked it up on a whim from a library shelf, but I think the author really nailed it on this one.

It was a great cautionary tale - the clappers, 'storking', and the premise that children under a certain age have absolutely no rights, not even the right to exist.

Made me really think, and that's a big reason why I loved the book.

The sophistry of the whole line of 'they aren't murdering them if they are alive through the whole unwinding process', just makes me sick. I think it would have been much more merciful to let them be unconscious for the procedure. Listening to the sounds of being taken apart, the chatter of the medics doing it, ugh! - that sounds like a form of torture to me.

And I agree that the unwinding scene was necessary, and that they chose the perfect person for it - as someone else said, even the worst among them didn't deserve that.

There is a sequel already, not sure if there will be more, but I don't know if I want to read it. I think all of the really important stuff was said in the first book. I would have preferred that the author wrap it all up (like The Giver), rather than turn it into some terrible marketing-monster trilogy.


Amy | 1929 comments I think this book really does make you think about your own values. What you feel is right or wrong. It seems like the point of view of unwinding is that's it's more of a service to the family rather than doing something completely horrible. I often wondered during the unwinding scene, what happens to the soul or the essence of the person? Do they just stop being?


Julie S. About The Giver

There was not really a concrete ending on The Giver, so I'm not sure what you mean by that being tied up. There's two other books in The Giver series, Gathering Blue and Messenger. When I just checked her page on GoodReads, I saw that the series has one more book that is expected to be published in 2012.


Michele | 19 comments Amy wrote: I often wondered during the unwinding scene, what happens to the soul or the essence of the person? Do they just stop being?

I think that this is one the main points of the book, which is an uncomfortable topic for many people on all sides of various issues. But it definitely makes me think. The character who had a full half of his brain (am I correct?) from someone else is a good example of this point. (I cannot remember his name right now.) He had someone else's memories. Actually just thinking about this again now gives me the chills.

I am not sure I can visualize a sequel to this book. I don't know if I want to read it either. I like that "Unwind" ended while it wasn't fully resolved. I don't it should seem easy to solve the problem their culture has slid into. It isn't just a legal change, it would have to become a cultural shift. That is another thing I found interesting to consider when reading the book: the values that the culture held which led it into this law.


Amy | 1929 comments I think I'm definitely going to read the sequel because I'm curious. But I'm sure it's not going to stand up against the first one. It seems that this book would be great as a stand alone because it leaves you with some questions.


Morgan  | 21 comments Cheryl wrote: "I have to admit that I still thought it was hard to read even though it was the "bully" getting his due."

I agree. Even though the book never outright (that I can recall) mention that he was abused, at the very least he obviously had a very rough childhood. I can understand that someone needed to be 'unwound', and that it had more of an impact being one of the characters we knew, but it was still difficult to read.


Kellyflower | 136 comments Michele wrote: " I have just asked my almost 16-year-old to read it. She liked the movie "Never Let Me Go," which I did not not see all of, but was apparently also about taking ..."

I've read Never Let Me Go and you really don't find out until near the end that (view spoiler)

Amy -" I often wondered during the unwinding scene, what happens to the soul or the essence of the person? Do they just stop being?"
Wasn't this mentioned in the book? I've read so many books I can't remember if it was
Unwind (Unwind, #1) or not that went into this kinda of dilemma for one of the characters.

Cheryl wrote: "I have to admit that I still thought it was hard to read even though it was the "bully" getting his due."
That's what was so great about that scene..and disturbing. Here's this character that we dislike, but during that scene all I felt was sorrow for him and sadness. Would anyone deserve that? Any human being?
Great book!



I'm really leery of the sequel.


Amy | 1929 comments I don't recall ever hearing an explanation about the "essence" of the person. Seems almost as if they just melt away.


Kellyflower | 136 comments Amy this is gonna drive me crazy now. I wonder what book it was. Grrrr...


Heather Ohana (blackdotbug) It's been a while since I've read it, but I think the existential question is implicit in the book. I think the author dances around the idea that a piece of the original person's identity or soul comes with the piece of their body that gets transplanted into another, to varying degrees. I don't think it's actually explicitly stated or discussed anywhere though.


Kellyflower | 136 comments I wish I had my book... I've let my sister borrow it.

I could be thinking of several different books:
Skinned
Never Let Me Go
The Everafter

but seriously there is a book that actually has those words essence of a person" in it that I've read.
I feel crazy now.


Kellyflower | 136 comments I just realized Amy that I may have been thinking the same question as you through out the book and that's why I think I read it somewhere.
(yes I am blond)


message 44: by Angela Sunshine, WT Co-Moderator (last edited Jun 23, 2011 11:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angela Sunshine (AngelaSunshine) | 2536 comments Mod
Heather wrote: "It's been a while since I've read it, but I think the existential question is implicit in the book. I think the author dances around the idea that a piece of the original person's identity or soul ..."

That's what I took away from it too. That's why the kid, CyFi/CyTy, that Lev was traveling with could "feel" his donor and see his memories. It was like a little of the soul went with the donor into the new body.


Amy | 1929 comments Oh yeah, totally forgot about that part!


Augusta | 6 comments I actually thought it was more scientific than spiritual. Because CyFi's transplant involved the part of the brain that stored memories but not language, CyFi could "feel" Ty's emotions that were attached to certain memories, but the feelings couldn't be articulated. Also, that part of the brain was continuing to function as though no change to the body had taken place (Ty not realizing he's been unwound). If CyFi's transplant had been a liver transplant, for example, I don't know that CyFi would've had that experience.


Julie S. Well, think about end of the book. I'll mark spoilers just in case. (view spoiler)


Michele | 19 comments I agree with Heather that the question of what happens to the "essence" is the big question of the book. That is why my favorite part is when they are in the container discussing when life begins and ends. What is life?

The book seems to end somewhat contradictory on the topic of what happens to the "essence." The proponents of unwinding assert that the unwound person never dies, they live on in everyone else. Which seems to be how it ends. Yet, while their body parts are still alive, the essence of themselves is no longer whole, so they are just gone, unwound. The parts cannot be put back together to make a whole; the essence is more than the sum of the parts. That scene of trying to rebuild the boy is really sad to me, pathetic, worse than the unwinding in some ways. The Admiral wants his son back, but this odd grouping isn't really him. How much does this grouping help the Admiral? I don't remember the ending well enough.

Additionally, the boy who is unwound seems to be holding onto himself after most of his parts are gone.

I cannot fully follow my own thinking...sorry.


Lydia (LoverofInformation) | 594 comments Heather wrote: "It's been a while since I've read it, but I think the existential question is implicit in the book. I think the author dances around the idea that a piece of the original person's identity or soul ..."

Thanks for the references Kelly, I have added to my TBA


Morgan  | 21 comments Michele wrote: "I agree with Heather that the question of what happens to the "essence" is the big question of the book. That is why my favorite part is when they are in the container discussing when life begins ..."

I agree that it was pretty confusing. People who had random parts of the Admiral's son had memories, which I thought was odd. I could understand how with CyFi he had impulses that were coming from the donor brain, or how maybe some people had muscle memory, but from what I remember at the Admiral's party it seemed like the person who had part of the son's throat was 'speaking' to his Dad. The whole concept of unwinding being an acceptable compromise between pro-life and pro-choice just seems extremely far out. I thought it was an interesting book and unique concept though.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Unwind (other topics)
The Giver (other topics)
Messenger (other topics)
Gathering Blue (other topics)
Never Let Me Go (other topics)
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Neal Shusterman (other topics)