From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 7 Up—Set in the future, the second civil war is fought over abortion. To end the war, a compromise is reached that ends the practice of abortion but creates an alternative called "unwinding." Between the ages of 13 and 17, parents or guardians can choose to have their children unwound, which involves having every part of their bodies harvested to be "donated" to another person so, technically, they don't really die. The complex and compelling plot follows three teens whose stories intertwine when they escape while on their way to the harvest camps. Fifteen-year-old Connor's parents can no longer control him. Lev, a tithe, was raised by religious parents for the sole purpose of being unwound. Risa, a ward of the state, is a victim of shrinking budgets since she is not a talented enough musician to be kept alive. Neal Shusterman's engrossing novel (S & S, 2007) is narrated in an even cadence and matter-of-fact tone that suits the author's straightforward narrative style. His wide array of voices makes the involved story line, which is left wide open for what is sure to be an interesting sequel, easy to follow. This gripping, thought-provoking novel is guaranteed to lead to interesting discussions about abortion, adoption, organ donation, religion, politics, and health care.—Karen T. Bilton, Mary Jacobs Memorial Library, Rocky Hill, NJ
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"Gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller...The issues raised could not be more provocative--the sanctity of life, the meaning of being human--while the delivery could hardly be more engrossing or better aimed to teens."--Publishers Weekly,
"A thought-provoking, well-paced read that will appeal widely."--School Library Journal
, starred review
"Well-written, this draws the readers into a world that is both familiar and strangely foreign, and generates feelings of horror, disturbance, disgust and fear. As with classics such as 1984
and Fahrenheit 451
, one can only hope that this vision of the future never becomes reality."--Kirkus Reviews
"Poignant, compelling, and ultimately terrifying, this book will enjoy popularity with a wide range of readers."--VOYA
"Following in the footsteps of Jonathan Swift, Shusterman uncorks a Modest Proposal of his own to solve a Pro-Life/Pro-Choice dilemma...ingeniously developed cast and premise."--Booklist
"Nail-biting, character-driven thriller."--The Horn Book
"The shocking premise is unveiled immediately, and a nail-biting pace is sustained throughout, with the teens flung headlong into a true life-or-death struggle...these haunting debates will likely linger in the reader's mind even after the riveting plot fades...an ideal blend of philosophy and action set in a compelling futuristic landscape."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The power of the novel lies in what it doesn't do: come down explicitly on one side or the other."--The New York Times Book Review