Thursday, April 24, 2008

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

This novel takes place in the undetermined future where a person doesn't need to die in order to be an organ donor and children can be aborted from age 13-18. In this future, abortions are outlawed but a new solution exists where teens (whether unwanted or merely troublemakers) can be "unwound" and every piece of them (limbs, muscles, organs, etc) becomes an item that can be transplanted. The order to be "unwound" can be determined at any age but it won't take place until they reach 13 and once the order is signed, there's no going back. Children who are unwanted from birth can also be "storked" where the mother leaves the baby on someone's doorstep and legally becomes the home owner's property. While being unwound sounds undesirable for a teen, certain teens are led to believe it is an honor to be unwound. These teens are called "tithes."

That's just the background for the novel. The story shifts through different third person points-of-views, but it mainly focuses on Connor, Risa, and Lev. Connor was a troublemaker sent to be unwound, Risa belonged to a State Home and had more potential as body pieces than one whole, and Lev was a tithe. Their paths cross when Connor goes AWOL before he can be sent to the Harvest Camp (where teens are unwound). As he runs from the cops, he takes Lev hostage and causes a bus to crash, therefore freeing Risa from the journey to the Harvest Camp. It then becomes a desperate journey to stay alive. Along the way they meet many characters who help them survive, discover that being tithed isn't such an honor, and that receiving an unwound body part also means you receive the unwound teen.

This novel is interesting, very thought provoking even though I don't really see this coming true. It has a unique concept but one thing I question is how a person could honestly support the idea of unwinding? Even though the person is "still alive," unwinding still theoretically kills another person. How can the world support condemning one person to "death" to help the needs of other people? Sure it is better to help ten people at the loss of one, but not when the one is an unwilling and unnecessary victim. It'd be one thing if the person was already dead, but to "kill" them is a completely different idea. Also, to do it when they're already developed into a living breathing person with hopes of a future is just cruel. At the same time the novel said people stopped trying to cure because they could merely replace, which almost seems counter-productive since the diseases still exist. Those, though, are just my reactions to this future.

In terms of the actual story, there are a lot of interesting characters presented. Cy-Fi does a great job of showing the affect an unwound body part has on the recipient. The Admiral is also a great character for the compassion he shows for the "unwinds." Roland also presents a nice antagonist for Connor. The story does drag at certain points, but it is, nonetheless, interesting. As a reader I wasn't overly impressed, but it did get me thinking so I guess that's a good thing.

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