Tatiana's Reviews > Unwind

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2009, ya, dystopias-post-apocalyptic, 2012
Read 2 times. Last read July 16, 2012 to July 23, 2012.

As seen on The Readventurer

I approached rereading Unwind with trepidation. I generally enjoy revisiting books in series before each new release, but two reasons held me back in this case:

1) My original reading of Unwind left me completely horrified and I wasn't sure I would want to relive this story again (my husband is still too scared to revisit it); and

2) Unwind was one of the very first books I read when I had just discovered YA back in 2009, and it was also one of my very first dystopias. I didn't have much to compare it to then and, let's be honest, I liked quite a bit of crap YA at that time. Plus, there have been so many dystopias published since then, surely it would be very unlikely for an older novel to be better than newer ones?

I shouldn't have worried. Unwind proves once again that most of the best YA dystopias were published way before the current dystopian craze.

What stood out for me the most this time is how political this novel is. Reading the latest YA releases would make you think that dystopias are all about running around and snogging while hiding from the big bad government that wants to kill you for no good reason. But Unwind, while containing all these tropes (running, hiding, and a bit of romance), has plenty else to think about in relation to the oppressive government.

I know some readers can't quite swallow the premise of this book, find it unrelatable, implausible, etc., etc. (Catie can tell you all about her problems with this novel) - yeah, the idea that people in a country would ever resolve the pro-life vs pro-choice conflict by abolishing abortion but allowing parents of the unwanted, troublemaking teens ages 13 to 18 to have an option to "unwind" them into parts that are later used for transplants is a pretty crazy one. Parental love and all that. BUT, I am not oblivious enough not to know that there are parents who sell their children into prostitution in order to have money to feed the rest of their family, who throw their newborn daughters into the dumpsters because dowries are strenuous on family finances and boys are just plain better, that entire nations were and are involved in genocides and scientific experiments on people (adults and children) that are deemed not racially desirable (Nazis anyone?) And don't get me started on the pro-life movement, members of which are preoccupied with saving lives of the not-yet-born, but have absolute disregard for the mothers' health or the well-being of those children when they are born and need monetary support for medical care or education, or, alternatively, this forced abortion story fresh off Jezebel's presses. So yes, the premise is far-fetched, as far-fetched as stories about the inhumanity of clones (The House of the Scorpion, Never Let Me Go), women used for nothing more than breeding (The Handmaid's Tale) or children forced to play survival games (The Hunger Games) are, but I believe in it, because I've seen things just as vile in real life.

... And back to the politics of Unwind. (I get carried away so easily ...) Besides the most obvious from the synopsis issue of pro-live/pro-choice conflict, Shusterman skillfully incorporates into his story domestic terrorism, religious brainwashing, and, the most disturbing part - the politics of transplant therapy, because an opportunity for adults to have an easily available supply of young organs (or hair!) sweetens the whole unwinding deal so nicely.

I like when an author makes his young audience think about these issues without openly pushing his personal agenda, especially now when these particular issues are so heated and in your face. Unwind is a dynamic, scary story that is carried by charismatic teen characters who are at times defiant and so easy to hate, yet they prove they deserve to live just as much, if not more than any "proper" adult.

Glad to say, I feel like I can safely continue recommending this novel. And I can't wait to read more about this unsettling world. UnWholly, evidently, has a character made entirely of spare body parts! Goodness, I don't think I am fully recovered from Shusterman's variation of Humpty Dumpty yet...
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 30, 2009 – Shelved
June 11, 2009 – Shelved as: 2009
September 19, 2009 – Shelved as: ya
April 3, 2010 – Shelved as: dystopias-post-apocalyptic
July 16, 2012 – Started Reading
July 16, 2012 –
page 47
14.03%
July 18, 2012 –
page 127
37.91%
July 18, 2012 –
page 127
37.91%
July 20, 2012 –
page 247
73.73%
July 23, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012
July 23, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 64 (64 new)


Annalisa By the way, thanks for the recommend. I still have this book in my head. Although, for some reason, the unwinding didn't affect me much. Maybe because I have such issues with the loss of limbs and people being physically hurt, I couldn't let my mind go there too much.


Tatiana You are welcome:)

I cried my eyes out during that scene...


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead I just happened to see your review. Isn't it sad that books like this aren't hyped and promoted like other books that will remain nameless? This book is one of my all time favorite books.


Tatiana Mine too, although I am afraid of it. I mean, I am too scared to reread it, it scarred me.

And why can't Unwind get all the buzz instead of trash like Matched or Wither? I do everything I can do get my friends to read Unwind, but not much can be done without some publicity push.


Jessica I am really curious about this one because everywhere I go I hear about how it disturbed people. I'm going to give it a try soon.


Tatiana Oh, Jessica, you HAVE to read it. Very affecting...

I even got my husband to read it (he is not much of a reader) and he stayed up sleepless all night...


Jessica Hmm, that sounds good! I will definitely read it soon! :)


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Tatiana wrote: "Mine too, although I am afraid of it. I mean, I am too scared to reread it, it scarred me.

And why can't Unwind get all the buzz instead of trash like Matched or [book..."


I've force fed this book to my friends and every single one of them loved me for it in the end. It really is an amazing book.

I can't wait for book 2 but I'm not sure how he can match book 1. I can't even imagine what it will be like.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Jessica wrote: "I am really curious about this one because everywhere I go I hear about how it disturbed people. I'm going to give it a try soon."

It is one of the most memorable books ever!


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Tatiana wrote: "Oh, Jessica, you HAVE to read it. Very affecting...

I even got my husband to read it (he is not much of a reader) and he stayed up sleepless all night..."


That is the great part about it, it crosses all genres and men/women love it.


Tatiana I am eager for book 2 as well, but as far as I know he hasn't even written it yet. It will be very hard to top book 1.


Tatiana Michelle wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I am really curious about this one because everywhere I go I hear about how it disturbed people. I'm going to give it a try soon."

It is one of the most memorable books ever!"


God, I still remember how hysterical I was after finishing it...


Janina Michelle wrote: "It is one of the most memorable books ever!"

Definitely! That one scene is still haunting me.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Tatiana wrote: "Michelle wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I am really curious about this one because everywhere I go I hear about how it disturbed people. I'm going to give it a try soon."

It is one of the most memorable ..."


I actually sobbed. I felt like I was having a breakdown or something.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Janina wrote: "Michelle wrote: "It is one of the most memorable books ever!"

Definitely! That one scene is still haunting me."


I was warned about it and still was not prepared for it!


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm going to give this one a read. I'm not solely 'fluff', I have enjoyed numerous books from the Oprah book club. White Oleander and The Lovely Bones just to name a few.

I wasn't keen on Forbidden, I didn't finish it and won't. I have issues with incest no matter how 'pretty' you write it.

But this seems like an actually good book based on the synopsis and the reviews I've seen. I'm glad I saw another review on it to remind me to grab it!


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Lindsey wrote: "I'm going to give this one a read. I'm not solely 'fluff', I have enjoyed numerous books from the Oprah book club. White Oleander and The Lovely Bones just to name a few.
..."


I would have never read this book if it wasn't for a few GR friend's reviews & just pure faith in their reviews. I'm so happy I did. It goes down as one of my favorites of all time, not just a favorite read of last year!


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm really looking forward to reading it now! People gave me so much crap for liking White Oleander and I liked it because it was just real. It was a good story. But people said it was 'inappropriate' and hated it.

I think I might go try to find it tomorrow now, god I have like five in my possession I want to read RIGHT NOW! lol


Lindsey The unwinding scene was really hard to take. I was also surprised how much Lev affected me in general. I don't know how I feel about it having a sequel. I'm not sure one would really work, but we'll see... I had the same opinion about The Giver.


Tatiana I have no idea about the sequel as well. Will there be the same characters or others? I hope it is good, but you never know with such things, especially so many years later.


Jinny I saw you gave this book 5 stars a while back and I finally got around to reading it. I'm so glad I did -- this book is AMAZING. I want to thank you for (unknowingly) introducing me to this wonderful novel.


Tatiana You are welcome:) I am very happy to see more people discover this book.


Eda** God I cried while reading the unwinding scene too!


Carmen I just finished the book - what a chilling take on abortion... I completely went off of your review to pick the book up; I'm glad I did. I want to pass it on so that someone else can understand what depth an author has to go to in order to really write something as affecting as this.

Thank you!


message 25: by Tatiana (last edited Jan 04, 2012 12:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tatiana I am happy you enjoyed it. Carmen:)


message 26: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Hunter Unwind sounds amazing! Thanks for letting me know it even exists.


Stacey (prettybooks) Will you be reading the sequel?


Tatiana prettybooks wrote: "Will you be reading the sequel?" Oh, definitely. Hope it's good.


Stacey (prettybooks) Me too! I'm nervous about it though. *fingers crossed*


Ikhlas Hussain Really great review, Tatiana! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said :)


Tatiana Ikhlas wrote: "Really great review, Tatiana! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said :)"

Thank you. I was happy to see that I still like it a lot:)


message 32: by Casey (new) - added it

Casey Waters Thank you for such a brilliant review :) Cannot wait to read this now!


Andrea I've heard so many good things about this book, and your review just makes me wait to pick it up asap. Which I just might! :)


Halen OMG, I still vividly remember that unwiding toward the end, you know which scene... I still makes me shudder. I am so excited for the next two.


Megan You make a good point with the comparisons between current day craziness and the seemingly implausible craziness in so many dystopias. Wish I could "like" this review a second time :)


message 36: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren I've read other book by Shusterman and liked them. This sounds completely different and WAY more intense..yet right up my alley. I keep seeing it on the shelf at the library and I always end up picking up something else. I'll be getting it next time I go. Thanks for such a insightful review.


Sharmin Ha! I had the exact same reaction when I first read this book a few years ago! I was so scared that I completely blocked out the memory of even reading it and Couldn't recall anything until I reread it a second time. So glad the recent dystopia-ridden book industry gave this book a sequel! :) I have a review up of it too in case anyone was interested in checking it out.


message 38: by Aly (Fantasy4eva) (last edited Jul 30, 2012 04:01PM) (new) - added it

Aly (Fantasy4eva) as soon as i got the sequel i rushed to my library to get this. i keep putting it off though. it was my first dystopian too and it blew me away but also freaked the hell out of me. a little anxious to admit it but i know i need to get down to it to read the sequel! (seen the cover? creepyyyy)

and i'm with you on this. i don't think this is a concept that's completely impossible and unrealistic. with the world heading the direction it's heading, it wouldn't surprised me if this happened years down the line, as sad as it is to say.


Tatiana I still feel a bit too scared to start the sequel@.@


Aly (Fantasy4eva) lol. i don't blame you :) i don't know if i can read about another unwinding, that scene was just terrifying. :/


Enrique You state: "And don't get me started on the pro-life movement, members of which are preoccupied with saving lives of the not-yet-born, but have absolute disregard for the mothers' health or the well-being of those children when they are born and need monetary support for medical care or education..." I'm afraid you haven't got a clue there. I am pro-life. Most of my friends are, as well. We support a crisis pregnancy center that provides free ultrasounds, free care for expectant mothers, and free care after the child is born (for a time; our resources are not unlimited). We help with housing, clothing, diapers, food, etc. We provide all out of love, both for the unborn child and the mother and father. Please don't make comments like that about folks you know nothing about.


Enrique You also state: "...charismatic teen characters who are at times defiant and so easy to hate, yet they prove they deserve to live just as much, if not more than any "proper" adult." Does that also apply to the unborn? Or do they have to prove they have the right to live?


message 43: by Tatiana (last edited Aug 13, 2012 01:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tatiana Take your politics elsewhere. It's a book review, not a political debate. You are free to have any views you want. I have no interest in arguing them. So allow me to have mine as well. I've seen and read enough to come to my own conclusions.


Enrique Tatiana wrote: "Take your politics elsewhere. It's a book review, not a political debate. You are free to have any views you want. I have no interest in arguing them. So allow me to have mine as well. I've seen an..."No, be honest. You used it to make your political point, and you can't run and hide now that someone's called you out. I thought I was respectful, too. Did you even bother to read the comment?


PJforaDay Love the review


Jason Well the sequel has much less in the department of shocking/horrifying. A lot more boring/eye-rolling though. I'm perplexed how he went from a 5-star book to a 2-star book, but maybe Unbroken will be great. Some series do recover after a disappointing blip.


Tatiana Really? That's sad:( Maybe he should have left Unwind alone then...


message 48: by Maru (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maru This book sounds very interesting but I'm scared it's going to be too creepy for me haha. I'll get over it though 'cause it does sound good, nice review :)


Cindy I love your review! That book disturbed me so much and yet I loved it!


Ashley Osman I just finished it and wow, I'm still so shocked and couldn't agree more with your review.


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