“You see, a conflict always begins with an issue — a difference of opinion, an argument. But by the time it turns into a war, the issue doesn’t matter anymore, because now it’s about one thing and one thing only: how much each side hates the other.”
– The Admiral
For book 19 of my #50bookpledge, I decided to read Neal Shusterman’s Unwind. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure how I discovered this book. I just remember being intrigued when I read the synopsis of the book on GoodReads. Since I needed books for my #50bookpledge which were not centered on romance, I figured I’d add it to my list of books to read. After reading the book, all I can say is that I’m glad I found it. It was just made of pure awesome.
Here is the synopsis of the book from GoodReads:
In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them.
Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.
In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life — not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.
“Ain’t no one gonna tell you what’s in your heart. You gotta find that out for yourself.”
I loved this book. Apart from having a really really compelling plot, the book was also well-written (at least, I think so). The whole concept of unwinding, which is the main premise of the book, is both intriguing and really creepy. Now, what exactly is unwinding? To explain best what unwinding is, here is “The Bill of Life”, taken from the book, which states how unwinding came to be and what it entails:
The Bill of Life
The Second Civil War, also known as “The Heartland War,” was a long and bloody conflict fought over a single issue.
To end the war, a set of constitutional amendments known as “The Bill of Life” was passed.
It satisfied both the Pro-life and Pro-choice armies.
The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen.
However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively “abort” a child… on the condition that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end.
The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called “unwinding”.
Unwinding is now a common, and accepted practice in society.
How do they terminate yet keep alive a child that is unwound? They “donate” every single piece of the child; not a single piece of cell is wasted and is given to those who need the parts. With this, there’s never a shortage of parts for transplants and the sort. Let’s say for example, you need a new liver, they can easily remove your liver and exchange it with the liver of an unwound. It might sound like it’s helpful, but just think about it; the child from which the parts was harvested doesn’t get the chance to grow up and find their calling. Who knows if the child that was unwound could’ve grown up to cure cancer?
If it wasn’t obvious yet, the book deals with some pretty serious issues. For example, when a child’s parents sign the unwinding order, the child is the government’s “property” and if they try to escape, they’re treated like criminals. And as if unwinding wasn’t a serious enough issue, we also deal with clappers in this book. I’m not entirely sure what clappers are supposed to be but the clappers who appear in this book are like suicide bombers. They make themselves explode by lacing their bloodstream with unstable chemicals (which explode with vigorous movement).
“One thing you learn when you’ve lived as long as I have — people aren’t all good, and people aren’t all bad. We move in and out of darkness and light all of our lives.”
The book isn’t exactly light reading but it’s enjoyable and fast-paced so I was able to finish the book in a day. My favorite part of the story would when Lev travels with CyFi. That moment when the boy from which CyFi get part of his brain pleads with his parents not to unwind him (even though he’s already been unwound) made me want to cry. It’s difficult to explain but it was such a heart-wrenching scene for me.
One of the most powerful scenes in the book for me would be the moment when Roland was being unwound. Oh. my. gosh. I have no words to express how I felt about that scene. That scene gave me goosebumps. Just thinking about that scene is making me shudder. All I can say is that it was disturbing. It’s not scary in a thriller or horror sense but… you just have to read that part to know what I mean.
“… if every part of you is alive but inside someone else… are you alive or are you dead?”
The book didn’t end in a big cliffhanger but I’m excited to read the next book in the series. I want to know what happens to Connor, Risa, and Lev after everything that happened in this book. I hope that I’ll enjoy the next book as much as I enjoyed this one.
Anyway, time for me to go. Until next time dear readers. 🙂