Annalisa's Reviews > Unwind

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, dystopia, speculative, guy-lit, sci-fi, issue, psychology, cover, setting, character, favorites
Recommended to Annalisa by: Tatiana

Page one, I'm iffy. Pro-life and Pro-choice fight a civil war and the only way to satisfy both armies is the agreement that no abortions take place but from the ages of thirteen to eighteen any child can be unwound and his or her divided body and soul be used as organ donation? First off, pro-choice isn't going to go for a woman sacrificing her body through pregnancy and raising a child thirteen years before she can dispose of it. And pro-life isn't going to go for the termination of a child who is more developed than an embryo. I'm not buying that anyone would go for this resolution.

Page ten, I don't care anymore. I'm already invested in Connor's fate when he goes on the run after finding the copy of his Unwind order. The premise may be absurd, but Shusterman made the distopia so real for me that I had to find out the fate of these unwanted kids through every horrific detail. The story never slows down with twists paced through the end that kept me glued to the book. What disturbed me most (beside the unwinding) was the music played at the chop shop. Every time I think a society could not possibly go that far, throw in a little reminder of Nazi Germany and I know it already has.

While disturbing, the story is near impossible to put down or get out of your head once you do because every scene can be taken to discuss a larger issue in society. It's not really about the absurdity of the resolution but a vehicle for Shusterman to make statements about society. He introduces important questions about abortion, organ donation, stem cell research, the destructive power of propaganda, apathy of uninformed decisions, consequences, parental control, and religious fanaticism among others. But he doesn't shove answers down our throats. He just introduces the discussion. Pro-choice advocates could make the claim that Shusterman is defending their cause by showing all the unwanted children that would come from anti-abortion laws. Pro-life advocates could make the claim that Shusterman is defending their cause by showing how sick the destruction of children is as parents turn a blind eye to the specifics of the practice just because they selfishly don't want to deal with a child anymore. I think what Shusterman is showing is that a society should never allow a government to be its moral compass, but individuals should make their own informed, ethical decisions.
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Reading Progress

March 16, 2010 – Shelved
April 14, 2010 – Started Reading
April 14, 2010 –
page 20
5.97% "Much better. This is more up my alley."
April 15, 2010 – Finished Reading
April 16, 2010 – Shelved as: young-adult
April 16, 2010 – Shelved as: dystopia
April 30, 2010 – Shelved as: speculative
April 30, 2010 – Shelved as: guy-lit
July 29, 2010 – Shelved as: sci-fi
August 21, 2010 – Shelved as: issue
August 21, 2010 – Shelved as: psychology
December 14, 2011 – Shelved as: cover
February 20, 2019 – Shelved as: setting
February 20, 2019 – Shelved as: character
October 1, 2019 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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Annalisa I've never read anything by him before. I think I'll be checking out some of his other stuff now.


Lisa Vegan Oh my. That was intense. Annalisa, I thought of Nazi Germany too with the band playing. And, neither of us mentioned it, but the whole storking thing put in another twist.


Annalisa Lisa,
I thought about mentioning the storking policy, but I ended up not because I wasn't crazy about it. Where laws now provide for women to give up their children to hospitals and such, I had a hard time believing it (just like the initiative) other than a vehicle to show a greater issue of unwanted children. It was definitely an intense story. I'm still thinking about it.


Lisa Vegan I am completely wrung out. I need a gentle book next, I think!!! I've been reading lots of dystopic fiction, which I love, but I need a break.


Lisa Vegan To me I just can't compare it with abortion or organ donation. 13-17 year olds who are fully alive and want to stay that way just can't compare with anything going on in our (also sometimes dystopic) world. It's not going to change anyone's minds. Unfortunately????? Loved Connor & Risa & the Admiral. I think I'll be thinking about this one for a while too.


message 6: by Annalisa (last edited May 10, 2010 10:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Annalisa I agree that the concept was out there and the book isn't going to change anyone's mind one way or the other, but Shusterman did make me believe his dystopic world so much that I could somehow still buy into it. I think the absurdity of it is to some extent it's appeal. Plus, I try and hold a different standard for YA. Sometimes, they need allusions a lot more obvious than we do to get them.
I may be getting to my fill of dystopias too, at least for a few weeks :). Try something by Marisa de los Santos. I noticed she's on your to-read list. That's some good chick lit to clean out your system :).


Lisa Vegan Oh, I have a bunch of books here, library and my own, and I'll dive into them. And, I have 3 CEU classes (2 hour, 3 hour, 25 hour) I really need to get done, preferably sooner rather than later. And a bunch of children's picture books home from the library too. AND, too much to do so it's going to be har dto get to any of it.

I agree the world in this book and the people were compelling and believable.


RoadrunnerNM For a similarly disturbing book read Alex Rider: Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz. It is present day and very disturbingly real.


Annalisa Roadrunner, thanks for the recommend. I'll have to put it on my TBR list.


message 10: by S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

S. Davis Totally agree with the first paragraph and on...:)


Jennifer Tanko I think you have to suspend reason a little bit to enjoy this, but they do make the point that the war got SO bad that both sides would kind of take anything to end it. I can actually see how that makes sense, but that's just me.


Annalisa Yeah, I had to suspend my disbelief a little, but the story was fantastic and worth it.


Karen Every time I think a society could not possibly go that far, throw in a little reminder of Nazi Germany and I know it already has.

That perfectly expresses how I feel when I see a ridiculous premise then catch an allusion to Nazism.


Karen BTW " Page ten, I dont care anymore"
That was my exact thought. Like at first im like, this is so ridiculous, nobody would ever go for unwinding it's just incredibly extreme and people wouldnt go to war over Pro-Life and Pro Choice and blah blah blah

and then im hit with the story and i just dont give a flying hoot about it's probability.


Annalisa Karen wrote: "BTW " Page ten, I dont care anymore"
That was my exact thought. Like at first im like, this is so ridiculous, nobody would ever go for unwinding it's just incredibly extreme and people wouldnt go ..."


:). That's about how it happened for me.


 Marla The music reminded me of the Titanic.


 Marla I too wondered about what Shusterman was saying about pro-choice and pro-life.


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