Thursday, 30 July 2015

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I'll start off by saying that it has been a long time since I've read and truly enjoyed a dystopian book.  I've been avoiding them like the plague because I had just read way too many over the last few years and their synopsises were starting to sound the same.  Thankfully, this book has broken the cycle of disappointment.

Right off the bat I was intrigued by this horrific idea that teenagers could be "unwound" in order to reuse their body parts (not just their organs - their entire bodies).  The story idea is quite freaky, and I can say that the book continues with the creepy, awful stuff.  There are some fairly disturbing scenes (highlight for spoilers)[yes, I'm talking about actually witnessing an unwinding from an Unwind's point of view!  That was terrible!] but they made me actually connect better with the story and understand exactly how living in that world would have felt.

The other thing that helped me get a better understanding was the use of multiple perspectives.  There are three main characters - Connor, Risa and Lev - and they all come from such different backgrounds - though they are all Unwinds.  I loved seeing the relationships that formed between the three.  There were also other perspectives scattered throughout the book and it was fun seeing how those connected to the core story.

Going back to the main three characters, though Connor was likeable and Lev was super interesting (which I'll get back to a little later), Risa was probably my favourite.  She was so smart and always thought things through and what the consequences of her and others' actions would be.  She was also tough as nails whilst at the same time being a pianist, which I think is awesome.

I say that Lev was interesting, because he was a tithe.  All his life he had been preparing to be unwound, and it was cool to see how this shaped his experiences throughout the novel as opposed to Risa and Connor.  [I felt so bad for him after his opinions on unwinding slowly change.  It would be so difficult to have everything you've ever known ripped out from underneath you.  Of course, I didn't agree with all his choices - like becoming a Clapper - and I thought he was such a wimp to start with - for turning in Connor and Risa - but I could understand why he chose to do those things.  That poor kid.]

There were also some quite terrifying revelations in the book [The Admiral being "Humphrey" Dunfee's dad was one (considering I didn't know the real story at that point and kinda thought he was a nutter cutting up people with parts of his son - also I'll mention here that it was cool how they sort of brought Harlan back), Connor waking up to find he HAS ROLAND'S FREAKING ARM was another] which added to the intensity of the main story.  It was quite action-packed, which I liked, but also had enough "down time" so that it wasn't too exhausting.

I loved that every single aspect of the consequences of unwinding were explored, as far as I could tell.  So, the story is that instead of abortion, parents can choose to have their children unwound between the ages of 13 and 18.  I probably should have mentioned that earlier.  Anyway.  The book not only shows the different reasons someone might be unwound, but it shows what happens to people who receive unwound parts and what the law means for mothers with unwanted babies and all that sort of stuff.  Which I thought was great, because otherwise I would have had a lot more questions!  Which leads me into my next point.

Possibly the only problem I had with this book was that I felt like, though we got to see through the eyes of so many different characters, I still didn't get to understand the full extent to which the world had changed.  As far as I could tell, everything was the same except for the unwinding and its consequences.  I don't think this was actually the case though, considering Connor mentioned that Ariana got injections to change her eye colour to keep up with fashion trends - but then it was also mentioned later on that someone might take an Unwind's eyes because they didn't like the colour of their own.  So that was a little confusing.  Either way, I wanted a little more information on the outside world, but I only really saw it from the perspective of someone on the run.

Lastly, I want to mention that this book really gets you thinking about all the issues surrounding abortion - especially since so many sides are shown in the book and different characters believe different things.  So not only is it an action-packed and scary story, but it also brings up questions about how we live now, something all good dystopians do.

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