Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Thursday, December 22, 2011

Plot Summary:
Conner Lannister just found out that his parents parents signed the order to have him unwound. In this world, children are born to prove their usefulness; if they are "unfit" or "problematic" parents have the right to have their children's organs harvested so they would become useful in the body of another. In other words, the soul doesn't parish, but lives on in someone else. For Risa, a ward of the state, her reasons for being unwound are not because she is unruly, but she is just a statistic where government resources can no longer support her. As for Lev, he was born the be a tithe for his family, which means his existence is to be taken to the Harvest Camp to be a martyr for a greater cause. Although society sees "Unwinding" as an acceptable compromise between the Pro Choice and Pro Life groups, what they don't realize is that their greed, hatred, and ignorance kills hundred and thousands of innocent teenagers. For Connor and Risa, this situation is unacceptable and they decide to run away. What they don't count on is running into Lev, who was set on being tithed, and how it would affect their escape. Although freedom is the goal, what they don't realize is that it comes with a heavy price that will change them forever. 

Critical Evaluation:
Neil Shusterman had created an amazing story that not only mirrors the savagery of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, but creates a debate that will have teens talking for days. Abortion has, and always be, an issue that comes across in party politics, but what this issue really does is provide a extremely realistic outcome about what happens when the issue goes from heated debates to all out war. The main issue that is being addressed is what determines the worth of each person; moreover, it talks about to what extent would we take it upon ourselves to decide that our children are not worthy to live their lives in their current form. Granted, adolescence is not an easy time for any parent, but what really got me going is how these adults can easily sign over their child's life? Unfortunately, there are not a lot of strong adult figures, except for a few, but what is remarkable about these teens is the impact unwinding has on them; those who survive started off a scared kids, but lived to become compassionate, patient, and loving adults. Despite this irony, Connor, Risa, and Lev tell a very scary tale of how morality conquered the government and in order to survive one must rebel and fight for what they believe in. It is almost scary could repeat itself so lets hope this never happens.

Information about the Author:
In his website, Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn and began writing at a very early age. After attending high school, he went to University of California, Irvine (UCI), and made his mark for being an excellent swimmer and writer. Within months of graduation, he got his first book deal and scripting gig. Not only is he known for his young adult and children's novels, he has experience as a screenwriter and television writer:
Wherever Neal goes, he quickly earns a reputation as a storyteller and dynamic speaker. Much of his fiction is traceable back to stories he tells to large audiences of children and teenagers -- such as his novel The Eyes of Kid Midas. As a speaker, Neal is in constant demand at schools and conferences. Degrees in both psychology and drama give Neal a unique approach to writing. Neal's novels always deal with topics that appeal to adults as well as teens, weaving true-to-life characters into sensitive and riveting issues, and binding it all together with a unique and entertaining sense of humor (para. 4).
Teen Dystopian Thrillers

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 10 & up

Books Similar to Unwind:
Awards & Recognition:
  • ALA Top Ten Picks for Reluctant Readers (2008)
  • ALA Best Young Adult Book List (2008)
  • School Library Journal Starred Reviews (2008)
  • Publisher's Weekly Starred Reviews (2007)
  • Voya Top 10 Picks for Reluctant Readers (2008)

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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