Original review is posted here: http://www.yourentertainmentcorner.com/?p=28660.“In a perfect world mothers would all want their babies, and strangers would open up their homes to the unloved. In a perfect world everything would be either black or white, right or wrong, and everyone would know the difference. But this isn’t a perfect world. The problem is people who think it is.”
What seemingly begins as a stand against issues concerning abortion, children’s rights and a person’s right to choose evolves into an action-filled, overthrow-the-man type novel. I like that Unwind makes you think because it shows both sides of the argument ‘what to do with unwanted children.’ You think long and hard about what’s right even though the novel delves into the realm of unbelievable. The process of “unwinding” (retroactively aborting a child) is legal in the world Shusterman creates because 100% of a person is to be used, therefore not taking a life but repurposing it. Of course, this isn’t humanly possible (no one needs a replacement asshole) but I’ll forgo that logic for now. Considering this is fiction, we’ll abide by the 99.44% the lawmakers have calculated to take into account the parts that can’t be used, like the appendix, and call it even.
I did overlook quite a few things that didn’t make sense to me (the retaining of one’s personality in body parts; the ability to carry flammable liquid in one’s bloodstream; unwinding being an answer to the problems parents have with troubled teens) because the writing is solid and the story sucks you in. These issues can be disregarded for the sake of enjoying the story as it is and remembering it’s in the realm of sci-fi where anything is possible. *wink, wink* If you’re not a stickler for details, you can get through Unwind without too much of a brain hemorrhage. Although, if you’re looking for any kind of resolution to the problems raised in this book, you won’t get one. But, I think that was Shusterman’s point— to decide for yourself what you would do in a similar situation.
I really enjoyed reading Unwind. The suspense kept me intrigued, the action is fast-paced and evenly spread throughout the novel, and the third person POV gives readers insight into all sides of the story. Now while I like most of the characters we’re introduced to, they aren’t entirely fleshed out since this is the first installment in a trilogy, and who really needs back story on a secondary character that you won’t ever see again. This aspect may throw some readers off because the characters appear to be two-dimensional, but there is a bit of growth toward the end where the protagonists Connor, Risa and Lev have learned from their ordeal and head in new directions. Personally, I would have liked to learn a bit more about the three main characters. I appreciated the way they met, the circumstances of their situation and how they went about trying to change their fate. Connor and Risa were my favorites and I rooted for them throughout the entire novel. They aren’t what I expected and was pleasantly surprised by their roles in the story. I initially didn’t like Lev because he seemed so out of touch with the reality of what was happening to him, but as the novel progresses, you learn a bit more about his status in life and why he thinks as he does. He doesn’t fear being unwound until he figures out exactly what it means. Being harvested for your parts is not a joke. It plays into today’s thoughts on organ donation. Not everyone checks that little box when getting or renewing their driver’s license. And there’s a reason for that.
Shusterman tackles a tough subject without delving too deep. He gives you just enough speculation to get your brain buzzing. So what is it he’s trying to tell us? What is he saying with the concept of unwinding? The idea is flawed with what we know today about organ donation, and the way Shusterman simplifies the process is what left me shaking my head. Technology in this world is advanced, but not to the point you’d think it should be. Instead of having doctors heal ailments, they replace the faulty parts. This raised quite a few red flags, and in the grand scheme of things I wish the sci-fi element had been more realistic, but I’m not going to harp on it. Shusterman achieves the goal of making one think after reading his novel. You can’t read Unwind and walk away from it without some inner dialogue on the complications of unwanted children in society.
With themes touching on the existence of souls, compassion, and what it means to be a human being, Unwind has something to say to everyone. The ending is satisfactory although I didn’t like the way it came about. I like my protagonists to remain “whole” so to speak, and knowing they’ll continue in the series a bit differently than when we’re first introduced to them bothers me a bit. I’ll get over it and will read the next installment as I’m interested in their story and its outcome. How will the Unwinds in Shusterman’s world make a change for the better, or will the adults who have control continue to make decisions for them as if they have no voice? I recommend Unwind for anyone who enjoys dystopian-ish novels, sci-fi, and issues relevant to today’s society.