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Unwind (Unwind Dystology) Paperback – June 2, 2009
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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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
"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"
"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"
"Nail-biting, character-driven thriller."--"The Horn Book"
* "A thought-provoking, well-paced read that will appeal widely."--"School Library Journal", starred review
"Poignant, compelling, and ultimately terrifying, this book will enjoy popularity with a wide range of readers."--"VOYA", 4Q4P
"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"
* "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, "starred review
"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"
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Top Customer Reviews
WHAT I LIKED
+ Unwind is a conceptually strong narrative and I was pleasantly surprised with the overarching thrust of the plot ― granted, it’s a story with a slew of controversial views; namely, pro-life vs pro-choice tropes and points on the complexity and dangers of establishing a congruent social system, subjective views on morality and ethics, there was plenty of non-stop action too and extreme moments where the atmosphere was convincing; so much so, that the bleak consistent misfortunes reached inconceivable heights of dread and spine-chilling terror. It stands to reason that, the book didn’t help ease my trepidation since it touched on realistic issues too. Especially when Neal Shusterman quoted factual information between each section of the book! This one, in particular, left me in complete disbelief and horror:
2003: UKRANIAN MATERNITY HOSPITAL #6
. . .The BBC has spoken to mothers from the city of Kharkiv who say they gave birth to healthy babies, only to have them taken by maternity staff. In 2003, the authorities agreed to exhume around 30 bodies of fetuses and full-term babies from a cemetery used by maternity hospital number six. One campaigner was allowed into the autopsy to gather video evidence. She has given that footage to the BBC and Council of Europe.
In its report, the Council describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate. The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped – and some bodies dismembered. A senior British forensic pathologist says he is very concerned to see bodies in pieces – as that is not standard post-mortem practice. It could possibly be a result of harvesting stem cells from bone marrow.
Hospital number 6 denies allegations.
Story by Matthew Hill, BBC Health Correspondent
From BBC News: at BBC.com
Published: 2006/12/12 09:34:50 GMT © BBC MMVI
And this one ― I have no words. It’s simply inconceivable!
The following is a response from eBay with regard to a seller’s attempt to auction his soul online in 2001.
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If the soul does not exist, eBay could not allow the auctioning of the soul because there were would be nothing to sell. However, if the soul does exist, then in accordance with eBay’s policy on human parts and remains we would not allow the auctioning of human souls. The soul would be considered human remains; and although it is not specifically stated on the policy page, human souls are still not allowed to be listed on eBay. Your auction was removed appropriately and will not be reinstated. Please do not relist this item with us in the future.
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Yeah, and then in an uncanny manner, Neal Shusterman leaves us with this:
. . .Fiction is all too often one rationalization away from reality.
As aforementioned, it was all strangely mesmerizing but unsettling all the same.
+ Unwind is extremely character driven, and this is really one of the only redeeming qualities the book has going for itself. Each character (there are 3 main characters) has just enough color, depth and personality and you cannot help but empathize with them as they develop and come to terms with their plights.
THINGS THAT MADE GO HMMM. . .
- Unwind didn’t grab me at first, I found the storytelling to be somewhat vague and stunted, but as the premise began to unfold I stayed committed; in fact, the plot’s intrigue was the only aspect of the book that kept me reading. In fact, now that think about it, it wasn’t so much the awful storytelling, but rather the book’s absurdly augmented length and the overall story arc’s unripe appeal. The book could have easily been condensed to 30 chapters without sacrificing anything significant which in turn might have helped plump up the story arc a bit.
- The dialogue in this book didn’t quite work for me either; even more, the “slang” which was cringe-worthy and extremely awkward. If anything, it often felt like the author needed the characters to say or convey certain emotions to “drive the message in” so to speak. This is especially evident in the middle of the book where it felt like I was no longer reading a fictional narrative, but the author’s biography and his imposing views on religion and abortion. I almost abandoned the book altogether, but seeing how I was actively participating in a read-along I slogged through the chapters, and I’m so glad that I did, because, despite this major gripe, there’s some merit to the last half of the book.
- Another low point in Shusterman’s Unwind is the caustic tone it carries against Christianity and God. This is clearly perceived through Lev’s character arc as the author uses a lot of Christian clichés, sarcasm, and a sort of lingering rage that saturates the book. Taken at face value, it felt as though the author used this platform to rant and spew his rhetoric on these topics. And as a God-fearing Believer, it wasn’t so much that I was offended, but rather it was achingly familiar territory ― that being picayune debates and arguments on religion and different worldviews ― and I just didn’t want to visit this terrain; especially in a fictional realm! Of course, I am not one to shy away from religious confrontations (believe me, I don’t), but it was the juvenile approach that made me draw back and skim through some of the chapters.
This was one of those mixed bag reviews for sure! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have gone back and forth between two sparrowhawks and three sparrowhawks, but owing to the impressionable nature of the book and the fact that I liked it enough to pick up the second book, I settled with three sparrowhawks :)
And Shusterman tells a good story here. It's fast paced, never really having "down" moments. He keeps the characters moving; they have to be since they are on the run. There's not a lot of flowery words bogging the story down. The only complaint I would have about the execution of the book was the present tense. At times it jarred me out of the story and I had to reread a few lines. After a while I was ok with it but I think I just prefer past tense because it's what I'm used to. I would knock of half a star if we did half stars around here.
The overall story was interesting. It's definitely going to ignite readers on all sides of the spectrum. It gets you thinking about abortion, Pro-life vs. Pro-choice but, in my opinion doesn't take a strong stance on either side. You have characters that think both ways about life. There's even a huge discussion about when life starts in the middle of the book- I thought for sure I'd get a sense of what the author's stance was there. But really you got four different point of views on the subject and no one was touted as being the "right" one. I think it was a good job of getting people to think about something without being too political about the whole thing.
The idea of "unwinding" is creepy. It just is. But I don't think it's so farfetched that it would never happen. I think the explanation of how it happened was unrealistic- I think the author could have thought that through a little more. There's a better story in there than the one he told. That explanation was lazy on his part. My thoughts on "unwinding" is that it is plausible that you guys, as humans, would try to do something like that. I don't think the way it is portrayed in the book is feasible, there's some playing around with science and physics, but the theory is something I wouldn't be surprised if we hear about in the future.
Now this book isn't for everyone. A lot of people don't like the scene where the unwinding is done to a character. That didn't bother me. It was disturbing but in a way that makes me think about how sacred life is, not in a way that grosses me out. I also know it would never be done that way; it's for the drama of the story. Sometimes you have to give a little leeway for storytelling. That part was one of those moments.
The story was also, for me at least, predictable. I wasn't overly surprised by any one thing that happened. It's not that it wasn't a good story, there was just nothing super special about it. I was entertained, my thoughts were provoked, and liked following these characters around.
It was a good story. It was told well. I'm fine with the ending of this book. I don't think I feel the need to read the other books in the series. I was torn between three and four stars but I think, in the end, it was good, not great. If you like sci-fi YA books I would read it. If you're looking for something a little more romance-y I would skip it.
Full review <a href="http://reviewingtheviewing.blogspot.com/2013/12/unwind.html">here</a>
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