Unwind: Neal Shusterman
Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can sign their children up to be "unwound," where all of the child's organs (arms, legs, feet, brain... you name it they'll take it) are transplanted into different donors. Connor is a bad apple and is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa is a ward of the state and has been studying music most her life, but is not enough to be kept alive. Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound.
If you have read or follow me on anything then you know I have a terrible fear of having my organs harvested... THIS BOOK IS WHY!!! It has taken me a very long time to build up the nerve to talk about this book. It really freaked me out that much. The concept of Unwinding is truly terrifying. It's not like you went to the dmv and checked the organ donor box thinking "yeah Ill give my organs up, I'll be dead what do I care what happens to them"... No, this is about having them taken while you're still awake, alive, and having no say in it.
Unwind, or as I like to call it "Why I'm not an organ donor" is just so different. I don't think there's any other way or word to use to describe it. I love controversial books or books with controversial topics and this is one. This book is about the battle between two groups the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. The two groups reach a compromise called "The Bill of Life" that states that nothing about a child can be decided until they reach the age of thirteen, and at which the child's parents can put the child up to be "unwound". People don't consider it dying because the child will still be "alive" just in divided state. (yeah you heard me right... DIVIDED STATE!!!)
This book follows three kids. Two who decide they don't want to be sold in pieces and one who was raised to think that being a sacrificial lamb is okay. Their parents/state just decided they weren't worth the trouble or weren't good enough and they sign them up to go to a harvest camp.... (yes again you heard what I said, A HARVEST CAMP!) Connor and Risa decide to continue the plan of escaping and basically have to underground railroad themselves to find safety. Lev has plans of his own; aka wanting to return to the camp and fulfill the tasks he's been brought up to face. Their journey is neither predictable or easy.
Connor’s situation was probably the hardest for me to read and had me so uncomfortable. He's parents basically just gave up on him. Instead of trying to help him out and do what parents are suppose to do they figure they'll cut their loses and just get rid of the problem. I could never do what they choose to do to him, and his story had my heartbreaking. Risa is so musically talented but since she's not top of the class the state has decided not to "waste" anymore time on her. Since she doesn't have any parents she has even less say in what happens to her. Lev was born to be unwound. His parents are basically obsessed with their imagine. He is one of several children in his family. Some of his brothers and sisters aren't even blood related they were just storked to the family. (I'll get to the whole stork thing in a minute.) As part of their image they have him just to "give back to the world". They even throw him a big, lets just call it a going away party, to say their goodbyes.
Now to the stroking thing. You know how people can leave their babies at police and fire station and its not against the law, well in this world it is... What's not legally is leaving your baby on someone porch. Once you've been storked you have to keep that child. That just adds to the twisted and sickening plot of this book..The reason I didn't give this book a higher review despite the description I've given so far is because at some point in the middle the book the plot gets a little mucky. The characters tend to spend a good amount of time just talking, and not about anything relevant just things. Also the introduction of like a million characters wasn't to thrilling to me either. Then it like dips to this bizzaro kind of murder mystery thing.... Yeah I don't really know what to say about the thrown together mid-plot, BUT it does pick back up closer to the end. Once you get past the WTH did I just read section the story will have you returning to the edge of your seat.
There are two scenes in this book that stand out above the rest. One is a scene were the kids write letters to their parents while in hiding. It had me a little teary. The other scene is what I've seen other people describe as the "WTF scene" or "that one scene"... It's the scene that will give you nightmares for months (speaking from personal experience). It's not only the craziest scene in the book it's also the hardest to explain. There was nothing explicit, nothing overly descriptive, but by the way it is narrated it's, it's just …horrifying. It made my skin crawl and my jaw drop. Just to give a little tease, someone in the story get unwound and the scene describes what happens to them and what their brain goings through while the procedure is happening. I will flat out say I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO HORRIFIED. I still can't even wrap my brain around how well the author used so little words and made such an impact. It's those few chapters right there that hit you in the gut and turn this book from something was was so/so to something unbelievable. I had to release the breath I didn't realize I was holding after reading it (only ya fans will get that one).
This book had me thinking about so many things I really do just push into the back of my mind. Was this book my favorite, no, it wasn't. But it did leave a lasting impression. Unwind is unforgettable, and thrilling. I don't know where Neal Shusterman came up with the idea for this book, and I'm not sure I want to. Even with it not being one of my favs it will definitely always be a book on my recommend list.
(Btw You could probably make this review a drinking game. Every time I say horrified/terrifying feel free to take a shot.)