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Unwind by Neal Shusterman

PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

LENGTH: 352 pages

SOURCE: audiobook

SUMMARY:In asociety  where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

REVIEW: I originally heard great things about Shusterman’s Everlost series and wanted to read those books. (I still do.) Then there was a sale on audible.com for one of his other series: the Unwind Dystology. In the beginning the narrator, Luke Daniels, bothered me. I’m fairly picky about narrators when listening to audiobooks so I almost stopped listening. However, Shusterman’s story-line was so engrossing that I stopped caring about the narration and just wanted to get to the next plot event. I’m sure if I had been reading it in paper, I would have stayed up all night to finish it. Where to begin?

The premise of the story is scarily believable: abortion outlawed, unwanted and “troubled” children harvested for parts, religious fanatics thinking that offering their children as sacrifices will win favor with their god. There are so many parallels to things that are really happening in our society that if one doesn’t pause while reading it, I would worry more about the reader than the author. As the characters discover what their individual and social boundaries are that they refuse to cross, the reader begins to question his own boundaries and how far he might go or refuse to go in similar situations.  Connor, Risa, and Lev couldn’t come from more different backgrounds, yet they are all fighting for their lives. Survival is the great equalizer.

BRIDGE: If used in the classroom, this book could be used to discuss ethics on multiple levels: personal, theological, societal…so many options. This would also be a good way to delve into those really difficult questions about when life begins and when is one an “adult”? Does the day between 17 years old and 18 years old really make that much difference? Even with all the philosophical questions that emerge from the story, the ultimate question that the characters and readers will ask themselves is: Regardless of how much time we are given, how do we truly live?



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