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9 / 30 books. 30% done!

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14 / 51 states. 27% done!

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43 / 104 books. 41% done!

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35 / 52 books. 67% done!

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39 / 165 books. 24% done!
Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Mean, Seriously, Can Neal Shusterman Do No Wrong?

(Image from Indiebound)

In the not-too-distant future, a second civil war is fought on American soil. This time, the issue isn't slavery - it's abortion. When the long, bloody battle ends, The Bill of Life is signed, making it illegal for anyone to harm a fetus. In fact, a child's life is protected until she/he reaches thirteen and then again, when the child hits eighteen. The years in between, however, can be a bit ... dicey.

Just ask Connor, a 16-year-old from suburban Ohio, who's about to be "unwound." The procedure, a kind of retroactive abortion, will take all of Connor - from his lungs to his eyeballs to his hair - and redistribute the parts to people suffering from asthma, blindness, baldness, etc.. Unwinding is perfectly legal since it helps people live longer, leaves the unwound spirit intact (at least that's what the scientists say), and gets rid of unwanted teens. Connor's not too thrilled about the prospect, but that doesn't matter, since the decision isn't his to make. Same with Risa Ward, a 13-year-old orphan whose presence is no longer cost-efficient for the state. It's cheaper for her to be unwound than for the government to keep paying her living expenses. Then there's Lev Calder, the youngest son of a couple whose religion demands a tithing of 10% - in other words, Lev, their tenth child, will be sacrificed as an offering to God.

The three teens are unexpectedly thrown together when Connor makes a mad dash for freedom. With Juvie-cops hot on their trail, the trio must work together to evade authorities and literally save their own skin. If they can make it to 18, they're home free, but the journey to adulthood is a long, dangerous one in a world where everyone wants to capture you - and your very valuable body parts.

I love Neal Shusterman for so many reasons, one of which is his great skill at exploring controversial subjects in ways that are creative, interesting, and so very, very entertaining. In Unwind, he takes the issue of when a life becomes enough of a life to be worthy of protection and spins it into a story that is original, exciting and thought-provoking. It's also touching in a subtle, unexpected way. I don't know how else to describe Unwind - it's a little bit sci fi, a little bit dystopian, a little bit adventure, a little bit romance, and a lot bit amazing. Seriously. I loved it. I haven't (yet) read all of Shusterman's books, but every one I complete just makes me worship the man more. If you haven't checked him out yet, then, what the heck is wrong with you? Do it. Now.

P.S. This line from Unwind made me laugh out loud (especially considering that it's supposed to be 98 degrees here on Friday):

"We're fine," says the young Unwind. "Where are we?"

"Purgatory," says Hayden. "Also known as Arizona."

Personally, I think this boiling hot state is a little south of Purgatory (if you know what I mean), but still, the line is funny.

P.S.S. Word on Shusterman's blog is he's currently writing a script for the Unwind movie and hoping that it will be made. I'm hoping for that, too. There's a website for the movie - - but it freezes my computer every time I try to look at it, so you
might want to check out Youtube instead. There are a bunch of fanmade book/movie trailers on there - some good, some not so much. I don't know if there is an "official" book trailer. There are some fun fanmade ones, though.

(Readalikes: Um, I can't think of any. Can you?)

Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), some violence and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find


  1. This sounds like a very original and crazy book. Definitely adding to my TBR list.

  2. I buy very little books because I am super cheap. But I bought this one last year and rarely have it. I've let so many people read it. It makes a great discussion book.

    PS I just got my copy back today. The lady who borrowed it told me it was disturbing but thought The Giver was MORE disturbing. I dont agree but thought that was interesting.

  3. I agree everything I've read, I've liked of his. I've also heard that he's got a sequel-ish to this coming out sometime soon. Can't remember, of course, anything about it now.

  4. I bought this on your recommendation, our library did not carry it, and it was fantastic! Thanks for the great book pick!


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