Unwinding is the fate set for three teens that meet by chance. Connor has always been a troublemaker, and his parents have finally had enough. Risa is a ward of the state, and budget cuts have forced Risa into this situation. Lev is the only one of the three who doesn’t see unwinding as a terrible thing; rather, as a tithe, he accepts that being unwound is his purpose in life. In a deadly car crash, these teens escape the fate that awaits them at harvest camps and flee for their lives (although Lev is more of a kidnappee). In this incredible and thought-provoking novel, Neal Shusterman questions what it means to be human and the value of life.
Unwind may see like just a unique action novel, but it is so much more. The desperation, danger, and running-for-your-life sequences may thrill the action lover, but the story is more profound than that. It was actually quite difficult for me to read this novel because of the horrible atrocity called unwinding. Half the time, I couldn’t even believe how inhuman some of the characters were to commit these morally wrong acts. What relieved me, though, was that for every bad thing, there was something good; the random acts of kindness strangers performed for the fugitives sometimes brought tears to my eyes. This novel revolves around the controversial topic of the pro-life/pro-choice debate, because it focuses on the sacredness of life. However, Shusterman does not take the topic from a religious or scientific perspective, but bases this book around moral everyone should have: everyone deserves the right to live and not just in the scientific sense that all your body parts are functioning, but living as a whole. All this was channeled into the lives of runaways who were slated to be unwound in this unforgettable story.
I can’t really explain how amazing this novel was; you’ll just have to read it for yourself to understand. Just know that although most of the novel was pretty depressing, the story ends on a hopeful note. Fans of The Host by Stephenie Meyer, the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, and Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer will also enjoy this novel.
Review copy from personal collection