Book Reviews of Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1)

Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1)
Unwind - Unwind, Bk 1
Author: Neal Shusterman
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ISBN-13: 9781416912057
ISBN-10: 1416912053
Publication Date: 6/2/2009
Pages: 352
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.

4.2 stars, based on 87 ratings
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

19 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Reviewed by The Compulsive Reader for

In his chilling new novel, Neal Shusterman paints a picture of a world where there aren't any cures and doctors, just surgeons and replacements.

Three unwanted teenagers face a fate worse that death -- unwinding. Their bodies will be cut up, and every part of them used, from their brains to their toes. But if they can stay out of the authorities' clutches until the age of eighteen, they just might survive....

The most frightening science fiction novels are always the ones that are most similar to our world. Shusterman doesn't fail to describe how a wrong solution to a modern issue can affect generations to come. Thought-provoking, terrifying, and almost inconceivable, UNWIND will keep you reading late into the night.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I just finished reading _The Unwind_ by Neal Shusterman. The novel is set after the second civil war between pro-lifers and pro-choice armies. There are massive losses. In the end, the opponents sign a Bill of Life which ends abortion as we know it. The Bill says between thirteen and eighteen years old, a parent can sign an unwind order. This essentially means retroactive termination. Children are sent to harvest camps where all of their organs are harvested, and the child lives on in the lives of many. The story is about three unwinds who run away and hope to survive to their eighteenth birthdays.

The way Shusterman presents complex moral and ethical issues here is similar to speculative fiction writer, Octavia E. Butler does. Neither of the authors supplants simplistic stances over others. While a reader may have an initial preference or belief, they soon find their ideas and perspectives challenged. The work demands deeper examination. What the reader initially feels repelled by becomes complicated when faced with circumstances that dont lend themselves to either/or choices.

There are parallel stories involving the three main characters that collide, and there are some good secondary characters to help round out the cast. There is intrigue and mystery and action that move the story along at a good pace. The reader can feel the adrenaline kick in for the characters and feels choked with anxiety and fear.

I really enjoyed this page turner. The author doesn't take a position on abortion, when life begins or what army was right. Instead, his characters wrestle with the ramifications of the war and the creation of the Bill of Life. Shusterman is a new author for me. I intend to check out more by him.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Very rarely do I finish a book... especially a very full book... and want to keep reading it. All I could really say when I was done was "wow," or laugh like a moron while uttering "oh my gosh" over and over again.

The point I'm getting at here is that if you haven't read Unwind by Neal Shusterman, I strongly recommend you get yourself a copy and read it as soon as possible.

It's years into the future. Years after the second civil war -- the Heartland War -- the war that pitted Pro-Life and Pro-Choice against each other. In the turmoil, a solution was formed. No longer can a child be aborted, but it can be unwound once it turns thirteen. Every piece of this child is still alive, but it is in a divided state -- unwound.

Connor is sixteen, and got into one too many fights at school. Risa is fifteen, and is taking too much space in the state home. Lev is thirteen, and he's a tithe. All three have been marked to be unwound. The three find themselves together as they run from the Juvy-cops. And it isn't easy, especially since Lev sees himself being an Unwind - a tithe - as a good thing.

Throughout the pages we get to know Connor, Risa, Lev, and a few other people along the way. The story goes deep into it's own history, and into ethics and morality, and even makes the reader question if there is a God. At times this book is almost scary, and it creeps into you. At times I thought about how I was lucky I'm 19 and too old be an Unwind.

The writing is spectacular. And even though it takes place in the future, it doesn't focus on that fact. But the book does include interesting ideas, like how there is not "black" or "white" skin colors, but "umber" and "sienna."

It was a little hard to get through, but the more I read, the more I wanted to know what was going to happen, and my only disappointment is that it's over.

Oh, and this book earns another point because I'm pretty sure that there was a reference to Back to the Future when it says "an old movie plays on an antique plasma-screen TV. The movie shows a crazy vision of a future that never came, with flying cars and white-haired scientist." Tell me that's not Back to the Future II.

Unwind... go read it... now.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 3
Stayed up until 5 am reading it. I couldn't put it down. Read it and find out for yourself. It's worth it.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Reviewed by The Compulsive Reader for

In his chilling new novel, Neal Shusterman paints a picture of a world where there aren't any cures and doctors, just surgeons and replacements.

Three unwanted teenagers face a fate worse that death -- unwinding. Their bodies will be cut up, and every part of them used, from their brains to their toes. But if they can stay out of the authorities' clutches until the age of eighteen, they just might survive....

The most frightening science fiction novels are always the ones that are most similar to our world. Shusterman doesn't fail to describe how a wrong solution to a modern issue can affect generations to come. Thought-provoking, terrifying, and almost inconceivable, UNWIND will keep you reading late into the night.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 53 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
In a dystopian future, the USA has survived what was called the Heartland War - a war between pro-life and pro-choice forces that eventually ended with "The Bill of Life". "The Bill of Life" basically states that life is sacred from conception to the age of reason, thirteen, but from thirteen until eighteen, a teen can be retroactively aborted - "unwound". The law states that all their parts have to be reused, so people all over the world have parts from unwound teens grafted or implanted into them when needed. This book follows three very different teens who run from the decision made to unwind them - and the paths they follow and the places at which they arrive are philosophical as well as physical.

This book has a pretty big creepy factor with the kids being "harvested" and the fact that people seem to think it's a GOOD thing. Overall, I thought it was very thought-provoking - you cannot help but wonder about where a society that does not revere life could head - and this is certainly a future I would not want to see. I would NOT recommend this book for younger teens.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 291 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I don't remember where I heard about this book, but it is an amazing and quick read. Author Neal Shusterman imagines a future America where abortion has been outlawed once and for all, but in exchange, teens from ages thirteen until their 18th birthday can be "unwound" by their parents. Unwinding is essentially taking the body apart and donating all of the parts to needy patients. The idea is that the teenager doesn't actually die but lives on through his or her "donation." This is a vividly told young adult novel that is part sci-fi, part horror, told through the alternating points of view of three teenagers who have been sent to be unwound and decide that they want a different future for themselves. I read this book in less than a day and found it immensely compelling. A young adult book that really makes you think about the pro-life and pro-choice decisions that are constantly in the news.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 962 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
In an alternate (or future) United States, the Heartland War between pro-life or pro-choice parties has been fought, and one of the compromises that the people have come up with is unwinding: any teen between 13 and 18 can be signed over by their parents to the government, to be "unwound" into parts for other people's bodies. It's not death, they say, because you remain in divided parts. But is it really living?

Connor is a troublesome teen whose parents are having him unwound. Risa is an orphanage at the overcrowded state home that is planning to cut costs by having a number of kids unwound. And Lev is a tithe--born and raised to fulfill his role of being an Unwind, and thus giving back to his god and the community.

The three teens are thrown together in a desperate adventure to save their own lives--and, eventually, the lives of thousands of other Unwinds. But the journey they must make is a dangerous one, one that can fall apart at any second through betrayal or bad luck. How much can they possibly do to undermine the system that threatens to dismantle them?

UNWIND takes on a variety of challenging topics that to this day still have no clear answer: abortion, how to deal with unwanted pregnancies, religion, and the existence of souls. Thankfully, it provides no cut-and-dry answer to these issues, and instead presents them in a thrilling and approachable novel. While I was not particularly impressed by Shusterman's writing style (too much telling and not enough showing), the characters--especially Connor and Risa, but even some of the secondary characters--come across as strong, unique, and appealing. They are good protagonists for readers to follow in this book that will most certainly leave an impression on you.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 648 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Whoa! I have mixed feelings about this book. It is very well written, intense and fast paced! However, it has parts that are hard to get through. It is disturbing on many levels and one of the most frightening scenarios of society I have ever read. It centers around 3 main characters who are scheduled to be unwound for different reasons. It grabs you right away and the action does not stop. Even though there were times I thought I may not really want to be reading this, it was too compelling to stop. I felt it was worth the read in the end and I was impressed with the ending. An emotional roller coaster of a book!
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
I absolutely loved this book, Unwind centers around such a crazy idea, that a teenager can be unwound, all their bits and peaces separated and put into storage until someone needs them, but at the same time it truly feels like it could happen in the near future. This book gives such a deep look at another side of the pro-life pro-choice debate... All in all its a very disturbing book but I highly recommend it.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 2504 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I have had this book to read for a long time. I was excited to finally get around to reading it. The book is fairly engaging and decently written but I had trouble getting around the main premise of the story which just seemed ridiculous to me.

I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was okay. The narrator was a bit too intense for the story and I though some of the character voices sounded similar. It was an okay audiobook but not great.

The second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights and the outcome was insane. All life must be preserved at all costs; children from birth to thirteen must be cared for. However between the ages of thirteen and eighteen parents can choose to have their children Unwound into parts. These kids are not killed but every piece of them is used for parts to replace failing parts in other people.

The book follows three main kids who are slated to be Unwound. The first is Connor whose parents just can't control him, the second is Risa who is a ward of the state, and the third is Lev who was born as a tithe (he was born to be Unwound).

If you can get past the premise that parents are all good with reducing their children into parts than you will enjoy this story more than I did. I found the whole main premise to be a bit underdeveloped. Basically if you haven't proven that you are worth something to society by age thirteen then you are Unwound. However, it wasn't ever clear to me what the motivation for parents to Unwind their kids was. Do they get kickbacks from the government? Or are there just a lot of parents out there that get so frustrated parenting teenagers that they want them killed?

Additionally the fact that the majority of human society would be okay with this is crazy. I mean really, are people going to buy the fact that even though these kids are reduced to body parts they live on?

Assuming that you can swallow the main premise there are some interesting issues in here. Unfortunately none of them were fully explored. For example the idea of Storking is discussed some in the story and explored for the first third of so of the book and then dropped. Also the idea that some people who get parts from Unwound kids find they retain muscle memory or other memories is brought up a few times but never really expanded on.

So while there are some interesting ideas in here I felt like the story tying those ideas together fell a bit short. The book is more like a string of cool (if far fetched) ideas than an engaging story.

The book is action packed read and pretty well paced (there were only a couple parts that were slow). However I never really engaged with the characters and I had a hard time swallowing the main premise of the story, I just couldn't get past that.

Overall this book was okay; there are some interesting ideas here but the main premise of the story was too far fetched for me. I had some trouble engaging with the characters as well and thought the story was a bit disjointed. Honestly the whole story seems a bit immature. I enjoyed Shusterman's Skinjackers series a lot more. I wouldn't recommend this series and won't be reading any more books in it.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
After the second Civil War, the Pro Life and the Pro Choice armies agreed upon the Bill of Life. This bill states that no child can be touched between actual conception and the age of 13. However, between the ages of 13 18, a parent can choose to have their child unwound. Unwinding is the process of transplanting all of the childs organs and tissue into other patients, or donors as they are called, who need them. Not one thing can ever be wasted.

The government basically brainwashed civilians into believing that if you had your child unwound, they lived on in more than one person. And if the child was unwanted or a problem child, this was a better option for the child, and gave the child the opportunity for a better life. Many parents felt pressured to have their children unwound, only to regret it later. Some children were born and raised as tithes. These children knew from a very young age that they would be unwound at age 13. They saw it as a blessing they were able to give to others.

Three children from three different worlds meet in the most terrifying circumstance. Connor was a problem child and his parents couldnt control him, Risa was a ward of the state and lived in an orphanage, and Lev was a rich kid raised as a tithe. Unwind takes you through each childs life, exploring where they came from, how they were chosen to be unwound, and their journey through it.

I can sum up my most constant feeling throughout this book in one word CREEPY. I have to give the author 6 stars for imagination. The fact that someone could even think this up is kind of scary though. I was inspired by the main characters. They didnt give up without a fight, as Im sure none of us would, given the choice of being unwound or death.

A must read for all dystopian, post apocalyptic, and apocalyptic fans!
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 289 more book reviews
Often mentioned in connection to abortion, Unwind features a fascinating and morally complex dystopia that comes alive through its three central characters. As a compromise to end the second American civil war over reproductive rights, teenagers between 13 and 18 years of age can be "unwound" by parental choice and their organs transplanted into other individuals. So reconfigured, life does not really end, but tell that to Conner, whose parents found his behavior too troubling; Risa, a Ward of the state; and Lev, a human tithe raised to be unwound. As their unwindings draw near, an action-packed adventure starts when their paths collide. Although classified as a Young Adult novel, Neal Shusterman raises some very profound, adult philosophical questions in this book beyond pro-life vs. pro-choice. One can relate to the characters who develop as the action-pack plot progresses, and one gets the sense that things are happening offscreen as well. This was a YA book that kept my attention and interested me in its sequels.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 40 more book reviews
This dystology is fascinating and a great read. Heavy material to write about and extremely thought provoking. I selected the book for my book club and six years later, this book still comes up in conversation; not only was it liked by everyone (first shocker), but the subject matter still invokes some rich conversation (yes, a book we continue to talk about years later).

The first book can easily be read on it's own. I did not read the second book until several years later and then I was hooked.

It is not often that you read a fiction book that really makes you think of your personal ethics and politics, but in a way that is not judgmental, but just for your own thoughts and perspective.

I highly recommend the book, the whole series, if you like the first book!
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 181 more book reviews
I was telling one of my knitting buddies (who works at the library) that I've been reading a lot of YA dystopian sci-fi recently, i.e. Hunger Games, and she recommended this one. I picked it up the very next day and am so glad I did.

Set somewhere in the not-to-distant future where iPods are sold in antique shops but very little else has changed technologically, this book is pretty light on the sci-fi, but heavy on the dystopia. A second civil war has been fought over abortion with an, er, interesting compromise as the result. Children may not be aborted in utero, but can be "unwound" (broken down into their individual parts, which are then transplanted into others) between the ages of 13 and 18. Both sides have justified this because all parts of the teenager's body "live on" as part of someone else. The story of how this compromise was proposed (given in the middle of the book) is pure literary genius.

Obviously, most teenagers are not going to greet their own death with open arms and many try to escape. (If they survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can be imprisoned, but not killed.) Among these are the three main characters of the book, all from different backgrounds. Connor's parents signed the unwind order because he got into too much trouble. Risa is an orphan who just wasn't talented enough to justify the government continuing to foot the bill for her upkeep. Lev has known his entire life that he's being given to God as a tithe. All three end up on the run from the police. What follows is a fascinating story about human nature with some "what if" thrown in.

The sequel comes out later this year, with a third installment sometime after that. And, of course, a film adaptation is in the works.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 566 more book reviews
Futuristic/Dystopian teen fiction by Neal Shusterman. In this very screwed up future, parents have the option of authorizing their children under the age of 18, to be "unwound." Essentially, this allows the kid to be taken apart, piece by piece, for body part donation.

Troubled teen Connor is sent to be unwound, but escapes. Along the way, he meets Risa, a ward of the State who is also to be unwound, simply because she isn't talented enough, and the state must make room for other orphans. And then there is Levi, who is the tenth child of wealthy parents, and was conceived for the express purpose of being unwound.

This is an incredible story. I started it, and couldn't put it down. Now I wish I'd bought the sequel at the same time.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 19 more book reviews
I freaking loved this book. I loved everything about it. There are so many great YA dystopian books out there right now. But I hope this book does not get lost in the sauce. It should definitely be given a chance and I will be recommending this book to everybody I know who enjoys this genre.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 31 more book reviews
I have issues with the main idea of the book. It's different, yes, but I could never really enjoy the book because I can't see "unwinding" ever being plausible. Killing a stranger is not the same as killing someone you've lived with for 13 years. It requires a different mindset. I've known people that played with an animal (chicks, calves, etc.), and then couldn't eat that type of meat (chicken, beef/veal) for hours or days or even weeks. To live with another human being for years, to raise that person and watch them grow from childhood, and then condemn them to death would require more than a touchy of psychopathy, so while I can see why people would be intrigued by this book, I couldn't suspend my disbelief long enough to really get into it.
reviewed Unwind (Unwind, Bk 1) on + 20 more book reviews
Beautifully written - yet utterly painful and disturbing in the best possible sense - Neal Shusterman's Unwind is a phenomenal read!

First came the Second Civil War (a.k.a. the "Heartland War") - a long and deadly war fought over abortion rights. Neither side would give up. Until, finally, a compromise was made. The compromise: Unwinding.
UNWINDING: the act of a 13-18 year old donating their internal organs - where they will be given to those with medical conditions who need them
The plot of this book is brilliant and disturbing! The originality of this horrible concept is just breath-takingly scary - mainly because it's so plausible! However, I enjoyed the creativity; I truly have never read such a unique and powerful story!
        The writing was also top-notch! It was beautiful and eloquent; it flowed perfectly. I enjoyed how Neal used multiple POVs to help convey his message - it definitely worked! Written in present-tense third-person, his writing style is truly unique and different. It takes a few moments to warm up to, but once you do it's just beyond amazing. (Personally, he pacing is great, but I felt it slow down in the middle - but it immediately made a comeback.)

The characters are brilliant as well! During the course of the story, readers will our follow three teenage protagonists - who all happen to be getting Unwinded (but for very different reasons).
*Connor: Connor's short temper annoys his parents on multiple occasions - eventually causing him to be Unwinded.
*Risa: Risa is an orphan who is being Unwinded to help her orphanage save money.
*Lev: Lev's parents have certain religious views that believe Unwinding is a service to God.
I've truly not read a book with such real and vivid characters! I loved each character in Unwind...Neal definitely did an amazing job with character development - even the supporting charterers seemed to have depth!

However, what I loved most about this book is that it makes you think. There are a lot of great books out there - but Unwind is one of those rare books that truly gives you a new opinion on how much life is worth. It provides some excellent moments for deep thinking and rejoicing on how much we, as people, take for granted.
        About 100 or so pages before you end the book, it still might not appear to be that brutal. But once you finish, you'll see not only how brutal it is - but rather how much we can learn from it.

All in all, Unwind is a masterpiece! I'd highly recommend it to fans of science fiction stories - especially the Uglies series and The Hunger Games. Happy reading!