Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Unwind, Book Review

Neal Shusterman
ISBN - 9781416912057

Pros: excellent characterization, original ideas (unwinding, stoking), complex plot

Cons: written in present tense (jarring to read), simplistic writing (definitely a younger teen novel)

"The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of 13. However, between the ages of 13 and 18, a parent may choose to retroactively 'abort' a child... on the condition that the child's life doesn't 'technically' end. The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called 'unwinding'”

The Bill of Life is the foundation of Neal Shusterman's novel, Unwind. Three children are about to be unwound for different reasons. Connor has become an unruly child. Risa is a ward of the state and caring for wards is expensive. Lev is a religious tithe.

When Connor runs from the authorities, his path crosses that of other unwinds, all trying to survive until their 18th birthdays.

The book is equal parts social commentary and horror - because everything that happens is perfectly plausible. The body parts harvested from the teens help keep other people alive, and with a higher quality of life. But even that has a cost as these parts have 'memories' of their own.

The characters develop throughout the story, doing things that match their maturity at various points in the book. The climax is stunning, and when you finally learn how unwinding happens... I haven't been so chilled by an idea in quite some time.

My only problem with the book dealt with the fact that it was entirely written in the present tense. I found the transitions between dialogue (which I'm used to reading in present tease) and narrative (which I'm used to reading in past tense) would bump me out of the story. It was especially noticeable when a past event was being narrated. One of my favourite aspects of the novel was storking. I won't explain it as its 'fun' to learn about and it's a highly original idea.

If you want to get a teen boy reading, or want something fun and creepy for yourself, this is a fantastic book.


Book-eater Ivan said...

Nice review! I just bought this book and when I'm looking for a review for Unwind, I saw your blog.

Nice work! And I just followed you! :)

Jessica Strider said...

Thanks! I thought the book was fabulous. It's got some absolutely chilling parts to it. Hope you enjoy it too.

Anonymous said...

I dont agree with your last line. Girls can read it too! you sexist! you segregater!

Jessica Strider said...

I never said girls can't read the book. After all, I enjoyed it. But it's typically harder to get teen boys to read, hence my comment.