(Odd cover, right? The person is all blurry, which makes sense once you've read the book, but then you have the fingerprint overlay... makes no sense; and the font of the title also makes no sense.)
Unwind was not what I was expecting. At all. I don't remember now what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. The plot is this, essentially: there's been a civil war in America over the abortion issue, and the end truce was that fetal abortion is illegal, but parents can choose to "unwind" their child at age 13 if they're unhappy with how they're turning out. If a kid makes it to 18, they're safe; no one can be "unwound" after that point. What is unwinding? Healthy teens are portioned out to others for medical or cosmetic needs. Need a kidney? There's an Unwind you can cut open and grab one from. Every single part of the Unwinds is used, so society is told that they're not "dead;" they "live on" in others.
So this YA book was a lot deeper and more thought-provoking than I ever would have thought!
Connor, Risa, and Lev have all been set aside to be unwound for various reasons, and this brings them together into an unlikely partnership to survive. Connor is a "difficult" kid for his parents. Risa is a ward of the state. Lev has been set aside since birth as his family's "tithe" to the program. So there are many issues at discussion in this book! Teens with discipline problems: how they view the situation, how the adults in their lives view the situation, and what the ideal solution is. Orphan rights: even as minors, what are their rights? What decisions can they reasonably expect adults around them to make in their name? When do they stand up for themselves? Religious freedom: at what point should someone outside step in? When the parents are about to sacrifice their child in the name of their beliefs?
Neal Shusterman is such a fantastic writer. Even as I cringed at the issues being presented, I laughed at the characters' witty banter. Even as I feared for the characters' safety and stayed up too late reading, I thoroughly enjoyed watching them continue to triumph over the horrible circumstances in which they'd been placed. Every time I thought the characters might be safe... nope! There's danger at every turn for these three teens on the run. While they are definitely still teens, with very little "life experience," they repeatedly make well thought-out and mature decisions.
I went into Unwind years after it's publication, knowing that it's the first in a trilogy. But the ending really wraps up well! You could stop at the end, but why would you want to? By the end, you're going to be rooting for the teens and will want to know what happens next. I know that I'm looking forward to Unwholly!
*I checked out my copy of Unwind from my local library.