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UnSouled (Unwind) MP3 CD – Audiobook, November 3, 2015
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It was a bit slow-going at first, much like the previous books in this series, and there was less action in it (and less romance - not that there's been overly much of it in the previous books either) - what we got instead was more plot, more politics, more background on this horrible world. I'm still not sure I truly buy the concept; I could just nearly buy people not giving a damn about other people's kids, up to and including getting them chopped up for parts, but I still cannot really believe there would be that many people giving up their own flesh and blood, their own offspring.
But then, there are people in the world who think nothing of murdering their own kids for some perceived slight or another, I guess, so anything is possible. I just have trouble seeing it happen in what is supposed to be a relatively close-to-us future and in such huge numbers.
Anyway, if one can suspend disbelief and go with that, at least there's a reasonable attempt made here to explain that world, and the reasons people use to keep themselves blindly okay with the new arrangement - and that there are, after all, plenty of people who don't think it's the most awesome of best ideas ever.
If there's anything I could have wished for (other than fewer typos) in this book, it's "more Risa"; she's largely absent. Fortunately the other main characters are strong enough and the plot was excellent, so while I missed her, it didn't detract from my general enjoyment.
Top international reviews
Lev, Connor and Risa are all mixed up, finding themselves in different sticky situations, following the events of Unwholly. But Connor has a plan, so he and Lev set out to find Sonia - remember the crazy old lady who rescued them way back when? Seems like she might just have the answers to stopping Unwinding once and for all. In the background though, nasty Starkey is up to no good with his band of Storks.
Cam features heavily in this book, which I love, and it was great to see him battle against existence and creation; a really clever theme running throughout this series so far. Some new characters are also introduced to keep things interesting and Grace, one such newbie, is the perfect combination of crafty yet understated funny kid. I just love her.
This book has lots of little stories running throughout because so much is going on - this really helps build a good foundation for the history of the accords but also gives us an idea about where this story might eventually conclude. However, because of this the plot builds and builds and never really explodes at the end because this is mostly a setting up book for the final instalment.
So whilst this book was quite slow, and I admit to letting my mind wander from time to time resulting in it being less fun than the previous books, it still adds a load of important information and backstory to the mix. Hopefully, with the new cliffhanger, the next book will be an explosive ending!
Unsouled does not really live up to its predecessor, Unwholly, and it’s definitely not the most interesting sequel of the Unwind series. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just turning the gears of the plot and leading us up to something big in the next book.
The writing is still solid. I’ve always enjoyed Neal Shusterman’s use of third-person present tense, especially as it’s fluid enough to be able to move from character to character without a jarring shift in tone. However, shifting from character to character has the unfortunate side-effect of ending a chapter with one character you like, only to have to shift to the next one. And believe me, I got bored of Starkey, Bam, Hayden and company quite quickly. I’m not one hundred per cent sure why, but maybe it’s because there was so much else going on. It could also be that I really didn’t enjoy Starkey as a character in Unwholly, but I wanted to learn more about the Rheinschilds, I wanted to read about Cam, Connor, Risa, Grace, and Nelson and Argent, all of whom have some excellent, thoroughly enjoyable chapters. Starkey’s efforts to make an army of kids pales in comparison to the other characters.
Let’s talk about Cam. I was shocked by the twist at the end with him, nearly throwing something at the wall when his caretaker Roberta just… argh. I really don’t wish to spoil it, but the events leading up to this sudden, shocking twist were a little bit… well, silly in some places. Even though Cam is a very famous figure, even though he looks like nobody else on Earth, even though he would be recognised by basically anybody… Once he seeks asylum on the Arapache reservation, apparently nobody stops to think: “Oh, hey, there’s a new guy who’s wearing a hoodie. Oh, he’s also wearing a huge caking of make-up. Definitely not suspicious at all!”
I think Connor’s grown up a lot in this book. I mean, he’s actually much less angry than he used to be, and considering he used to be constantly furious at the world, it’s nice to see him settling down. Even if he is in much graver danger than he was a few years prior, with quite a few more people and organisations who would like to see his head on a platter.
Risa sort of stayed the same. Again, she’s clever and headstrong, but sadly dull as dishwater. I really wish she’d grown as a character. She starts off well – fighting off parts pirates, and a coyote when it comes scavenging, but then… doesn’t do much. She’s sort of out of the plot for a little while until we see her again at Audrey’s (where she gets a makeover), and then at Sonia’s. I really like her as a character, so it was a shame to see her given such little development.
Nelson’s back in this book, teaming up with Argent, a rebellious boy whose sister is taken by Connor and Lev as they attempt to escape from the small town they’re staying in. Due to Argent’s stupidity in uploading a picture of Connor onto the Internet, the authorities come knocking, and so does one fairly notorious parts pirate.
Though… I know Nelson isn’t very quick to catch on to things, but he kind of trusted Argent too much to begin with. I mean, he lets Argent take him on a wild goose chase to New Orleans, without realising some of Argent’s suspicious behaviours, or his lack of drive to actually find his sister. Thankfully, Nelson turns the tables on him on their way to New York, but I would have thought he’d noticed much earlier. I actually didn’t like Argent too much as a character, and when Nelson finally revealed that they were heading up to see the head honcho parts pirate guy in Canada, who was teased in the second book, I cheered. Finally, we’re heading somewhere!
Lev was one of the main downfalls in Unsouled, despite starting out great. He’s becoming kind of self-important and nowhere near as interesting as he has been in the previous books. I admired his courage in the first two (and a bit… counting Unstrung) books, but in Unsouled he just becomes quite arrogant. I did like how he rallied people to his cause by the end of the book, but I really don’t think it’s going to do much in the grand scheme of things. There are just too many sides beings introduced to fight against the system – Starkey’s platoon, Lev’s army, what’s left of the ADR… When, to be honest, the solution finally presents itself towards the end of the novel, and that’s the direction I’m hoping the next book is going to go in.
Last year, I utterly adored Cam and said he was one of the more fascinating characters I’d read in a YA novel. Unfortunately, he’s not as interesting any more. I was very excited when his narration went towards actually dismantling the corrupt Pro-Active Citizenry, but his plans kind of unravelled. His original idea was to destroy the company from the inside out, but once he’s sold to the military, he decides to run away and find Risa. Which didn’t make much sense, considering he could quite easily have stayed behind and continued with his previous plan, even though there’s been a transfer of ownership. (And, apparently, Pro-Active Citizenry don’t even afford Cam the dignity of classifying him as an individual being and letting him make his own decisions as to his bodily welfare, since he is made up of other people. Ouch. Way to ram home the Frankenstein’s monster image.)
Unsouled isn’t an amazing continuation of the series. It’s perfectly functional, and it has some hiccups that, to be quite frank, are mostly my personal quibbles with the characters. However, it does pedal along at a slower pace as it sets the events in motion, and while it did a fair job of rescuing itself just towards the end, the majority of the novel didn’t grip me nearly as much as the first or second books. Like I said earlier, I can forgive it for being the ‘lull’ bridging the next novel in the series, but will I fangirl over it, the way I did with Unwind and Unwholly? No. It’s a decent read, just nowhere near as interesting or thrilling as the previous books.
Yet again, we got to read from a multiple of perspectives, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Admittedly, I found it a little bit annoying that Connor was always so angry and Lev wasn't his usual self, but I did like reading from Cam's perspective and understanding his constant battle over his own existence.
When I had about 10% reading time left, I was asking myself, how can this book possibly end? It didn't seem do-able! The ending would either be rushed or a huge disappointment. However, little did I know that there was going to be a book 4!! When I found out, I was literally a child at Christmas! IF you enjoyed books 1 and 2, then definitely read this! You find out a lot more about the characters, though there is somewhat less action.
Roll on book no.4!!
Well packed and distributed in good time too