Unwind

Unwind

Paperback - 2009
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The first twisted and futuristic novel in the perennially popular New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman.

In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: 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. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called "unwinding." Unwinding ensures that the child's life doesn't "technically" end by transplanting all the organs in the child's body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.

With breathtaking suspense, this book follows three teens who all become runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents' tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing. As their paths intersect and lives hang in the balance, Shusterman examines complex moral issues that will keep readers turning the pages until the very end.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2009
ISBN: 9781416912057
1416912053

Opinion

From Library Staff

When a technology called "unwinding" allows adults to donate unwanted youths to science, three teenagers go on the run for survival.

Also available on audio CD.

In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.

In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: 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. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choo... Read More »

n 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 pl... Read More »


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GCPL_Teen Jun 30, 2017

If you have not read any books by Shusterman go check out out right now! This novel takes place in an interesting, yet bleak, futuristic world. The societal structure is very thought provoking. Without actually mentioning it, this book addresses thoughts about abortion and the value of human life.

DBRL_KrisA Jun 23, 2017

The book is, honestly, about the abortion argument. On the one hand, the pro-lifers, who claim life begins at conception; on the other side, the pro-choicers, some of whom claim life (or the soul) doesn't begin until the child is born and is affected by its surroundings, and some of whom say it doesn't matter when life begins - it's the choice of the woman involved as to whether she wants to/is required to carry the baby to term. In this dystopian future, the argument gets so violent that it starts an actual war, pro-life vs. pro-choice, and the only way it can be stopped is for a compromise, the Bill of Life, to be created. The Bill of Life states that 1) abortion is illegal; 2) from birth to the age of 13, a child's life is sacred; 3) from the age of 13 until a child reaches majority at 18, their parents can sign paperwork to have them "unwound" - that is, to have their body parts harvested and sold off. (This is justified and not considered murder because, as long as their entire body is harvested, they will live on in the various people who receive the harvested parts.) The children being unwound (the "Unwinds") have no say in the decision, and their parents can't change their minds once the paperwork has been signed.

Children are unwound for various reasons - for example, Connor is a problem child and his parents just want him gone; Risa is a ward of the state and is being unwound so the state can use the money to care for other wards; Roland stops his stepfather from beating up his mother, and his mother sides with the stepfather, so Roland has to go; and Lev is a "tithe", a person who has been raised from birth to be his family's way of giving back to God 10 percent of what they have.

In addition to the abortion question, and the discussion of when life begins, Shusterman brings up several other sticky moral and social questions. He doesn't take sides, for the most part; he just lays out the issue and has his characters discuss the pros and cons, which should give the average young adult readers the opportunity to weigh the topic for themselves.

Part 1 of a series, but I don't think I'll read more of the series - not because this was bad, but because it wrapped up so nicely that I don't want to spoil it by seeing what nastiness happens to the heroes in further adventures.

b
blue_panda_3003
Jun 15, 2017

I couldn't put this book down!! Most of the time I would stay up all night reading.

slawr084 Mar 29, 2017

This book could change your life.

Imagine a world in some not-so-distant future where parents can choose to end the lives of their inconvenient children—the troublemakers and underachievers—between the ages of 13 and 18. This is the world after the Heartland War, an American civil war fought over reproductive rights and resulting in a frightening truce. This is the world of Neal Shusterman’s Unwind.

The rejected children don’t technically die; they are “unwound”—that is, they are surgically taken apart, one piece at a time, while they’re still alive. The authorities argue that this is not murder because “unwinds” are kept alive “in a divided state” and their “parts” sold for medical and cosmetic transplants.

Unwind is the story of 3 runaway unwinds fighting for their lives in a world that only wants them in pieces. Connor is a troubled youth whose parents choose to unwind him because they’re tired of him getting into fights at school, even though the fights are usually for a good reason. Risa is an orphan, a ward of the state, being unwound because she wasn’t considered to be exceptional enough for the state to justify supporting her any longer. Lev is a tithe whose religious parents give away 10% of everything they have, including their 10th child.

Connor runs away from home after discovering his parents’ intent to unwind him, and Risa escapes her unwinding sentence when the bus transporting her to the harvest camp suddenly crashes. Lev, on the other hand, has known all his life that he is destined for unwinding, and he is at peace with this until he is roughly torn from his destiny by a kidnapper trying to save him. Our heroes inadvertently happen upon a sort of “underground railroad” intended to save unwinds from their fate, but they don’t know who is in charge, whom they can trust, where they’re going, or what will happen to them there.

Since this book is about 13- to 18-year olds, I suspect this is its target audience. I probably would not have appreciated it until I was about 16, when I attended a Catholic high school and began to realize that my own beliefs did not match those imposed on me at school.

No matter what side of the abortion debate you sit on, this book asks provoking questions about when life begins, what sorts of supports exist for kids once they are born, the nature of the human soul, who gets to make life and death decisions, whether anyone ought to profit from the death industry, and about the nature of death itself. I recognize that this sounds really heavy, but it’s often presented in a simultaneously humourous and honest way. The book doesn’t seem to push a specific political agenda, but instead provides fuel for readers to sort out their own beliefs.

Unwind is an exciting tale of adventure, heroism, survival, protest, friends, family, life, death, and doing the right thing even when it’s most difficult. Fans of the Hunger Games or Divergent trilogies will love Unwind for its strong sense of social justice and youth fighting to survive in an unjust world. Teens who enjoy this book might also enjoy The Knife of Never Letting Go (of the Chaos Walking trilogy) because it, too, is set in a dystopian future that is a bit like our own world but different in some very important ways; it is also a story about teens trying to escape a terrible fate only to find themselves facing it head-on.

While Unwind successfully stands alone as a complete work, it will leave you aching to find out what happens next. Luckily you can! Unwind is only the first book in a 4-part “dystology” that ends in some incredible, unpredictable, and surprisingly plausible ways. While I found books 2 and 3 to be a little slower-paced and less interesting, book 4 grabbed me by the eyes and did not let go until I’d finished it. Unwind has become one of my favourite books (I’ve read it at least 4 times in the last 2 years) and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction.

Beatricksy Dec 05, 2016

This book is a little bit preachy and a lot political. It's missing the detail/backstory it needs to be a proper dystopia, and it tastes too light to be science fiction (look, iPods!). It IS dystopia and it IS science fiction by the definition of the genres. But it doesn't have the same feel since the elements are either thrown at the audience in a fast info dump, glossed past, or entirely ignored. It's a long, hard look at the helplessness of the unwanted, and how people (especially adults) are prone to doing the bare minimum, if anything, to avoid responsibility. And how adults are really no more powerful than children when it comes down to it. Basically, it's the more violent version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Which is good. But not what I expected.

a
ashley_barajas
Jul 06, 2016

Unwound: Taken apart piece by piece, organ by organ. For use of a person in 'need'.

LPL_KimberlyL Mar 17, 2016

An eerie dystopian novel that discusses morality, what it means to truly be alive, and the perils of not having control over your own body. This one is horrifying, fascinating, and creepy, but somehow incredibly beautiful. Even minor characters are fully developed in this book, and they are all given their own voice. It's a difficult one to read at times due to its content, but well worth it in the end.

cmlibrary_aghilton Feb 01, 2016

Incredible dystopian fiction story. One of my favorites!

vpl_childrens Dec 09, 2015

In a horrifying not too distant future, unruly teenagers can be unwound. This means that their entire bodies are taken apart and donated to other people, and they are told they get to live on in "a divided state." It won't take long for you to get on side with Connor, the young protagonist who runs from his unwinding. He meets a few other young people along the way..This very dystopic tale continues in the sequel Unwholly. Highly creepy, super exciting and just not put-downable!

p
Persassy
Aug 16, 2015

ZOO WEE MAMA!

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Age

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Sophia123_456
Oct 05, 2016

Sophia123_456 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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blue_turtle_1338
Jun 16, 2016

blue_turtle_1338 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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Re_Bel
Dec 11, 2015

Re_Bel thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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green_chicken_261
Feb 16, 2015

green_chicken_261 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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westonford
Sep 30, 2014

westonford thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Dee_xx
Nov 14, 2013

Dee_xx thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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NicoleHerdman01
Jan 08, 2013

NicoleHerdman01 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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everydayathena
Jul 21, 2012

everydayathena thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

LocketLibrarian Mar 21, 2011

LocketLibrarian thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

LocketLibrarian Feb 20, 2011

LocketLibrarian thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Quotes

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w
writingismylife
Jul 21, 2015

Would you rather die or be unwound?

n
Nocturnal_Midnight
Oct 22, 2014

Then he falls to his knees, drops the bundle of shiny things at his feet, and, rocking back and forth, makes a desperate plea.
"Please," he says. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."
"Please," he says, "Take it. I don't need it. I don't want it."
"Please," he says. "Do anything. But don't unwind me."

w
westonford
Sep 30, 2014

"if you're asking if we have a cause, we don't, so get that out of your head."
- Cleaver
"'cause 'all the king's horses and all the kings men . . . couldn't put Humphrey together again.'"
-Hayden

h
hedgehog13
Jun 22, 2014

“[...] every time he forces himself to think before acting, it's her voice in his head telling him to slow down. He wants to tell her, but she's always so busy in the medical jet—and you don't just go to somebody and say, "I'm a better person because you're in my head.”

t
TheresNo_Rush
Jun 20, 2014

"Looks are deceiving," Risa says. "After all, when I first saw you I thought you looked reasonably intelligent."

t
TheresNo_Rush
Jun 20, 2014

"Fight, flight, and screw up royally."

t
TheresNo_Rush
Jun 20, 2014

"I'm scared," he says.
"I know," says the nurse.
"I want you all to go to Hell."
"That's natural."

t
TheresNo_Rush
Jun 20, 2014

"You can't change laws without first changing human nature.'
-Nurse Greta

You can't change human nature without first changing the law.'
-Nurse Yvonne"

t
TheresNo_Rush
Jun 20, 2014

"In a perfect world everything would be either black or white, right or wrong, and everyone would know the difference. But this isn't a perfect world. The problem is people who think it is."

Summary

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w
westonford
Sep 30, 2014

A dystopian Future based after a civil war, not to far away, in which beginning at the age 13 kids can be literally unwound, meaning they are taken apart, and sold for individual parts to those who need them, making it unnecessary to cure diseases, but rather to replace the infected portion of the body. a new form of terrorists known as "clappers" detonate explosives inside their blood mainly by clapping. parents are now able to leave unwanted infants at other people's doors as long as they're not caught. the simply wrong ideas in this book will not allow you to put it down.

vpl_childrens Aug 15, 2014

In a horrifying not too distant future, unruly teenagers can be unwound. This means that their entire bodies are taken apart and donated to other people, and they are told they get to live on in "a divided state." It won't take long for you to get on side with Connor, the young protagonist who runs from his unwinding. He meets a few other young people along the way..This very dystopic tale continues in the sequel Unwholly. Highly creepy, super exciting and just not put-downable!

l
LuluY
Aug 15, 2011

Imagine a world where there are no doctors looking for cures-only body parts for replacements. A story told in a world where unwanted teens being given up to be chopped up to pieces to salvage their body parts is actually a good thing- and of 3 kids who managed to escape...

Notices

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w
westonford
Sep 30, 2014

Other: Disturbing scenes and ideas. not recommended for young children.

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