Review: Unwind

Cover of "Unwind," featuring a slightly out-of-focus hand lit with blue light against a dark background
Image from ftbotbblog.blogspot.com

Title:  Unwind

Series: Unwind Dystology #1

Author:  Neal Shusterman

Genre:  Dystopian

Back Cover:

After the Second Civil War, a compromise was reached that satisfied both pro-life and pro-choice forces.  Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen.  But between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a child can be “unwound,” where every part of the child’s body is distributed to different people, so life doesn’t technically end.  Connor, Risa, and Lev are Unwinds: Connor is too difficult for his parents to control; Risa, a ward of the state, isn’t talented enough to keep; and Lev is a tithe, a child born and raised to be unwound.  Together, they might have a chance to escape…and to survive.


I read this book once before.  It was one of those books that even years after I read it, I didn’t remember the details, but I remembered it was captivating in an unsettling sort of way.  I’m pretty sure my review isn’t going to do it justice, but I will try.

In the beginning, Connor was described as hotheaded and impulsive and generally hard to control.  Practically the only problem I had with the book was this fact.  The book started after Connor found out he was going to be unwound, and though he was angry, it stemmed from the fact that his parents were going to unwind him.  In fact, he was by far my favorite character – yes, hotheaded at times, but he also had a good brain in his head.

Risa, strangely enough, I didn’t get much of a feel for.  It wasn’t something I noticed while I was reading, but she didn’t have an extremely unique personality.  For the most part, she was just kind of there.  Every once in a while, she convinced Connor not to do something reckless, but other than that, she didn’t do a while lot.

Lev was, while not my favorite character, definitely the most interesting one.  He’d known since he was born that he was going to be unwound, and he accepted – and even welcomed – that fact.  It was a strange mindset, but in a twisted sort of way, I could understand it.  Unwinding was his purpose, and if he was to survive, he was pointless.

It’d been so long since I’ve read this book that I didn’t remember most of it.  So it was creepy the second time around, too.  While the plot was Connor, Risa, and Lev escaping unwinding, the focus was more on unwinding itself.  And the fact that people saw it as “humane”…even though it seems utterly impossible, Neal Shusterman made it seem utterly logical how people would come up with this.

This story was eerie, scary, and, yes, a little disturbing.  But I still found it entirely fascinating.  I can’t explain exactly why, but it is utterly amazing.  There’s no way my review did it justice – I recommend you read it yourself.

There’s also a sequel, UnWholly, which was just released in August.  And do I ever want to read it!

Update, three years later: Even though I’m pro-choice and no longer support the book’s thinly-veiled anti-abortion message, it’s still a fascinating and enjoyable read.

The Unwind Dystology:

  1. Unwind
  2. UnWholly
  3. UnSouled
  4. UnDivided

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