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Unwind | [Neal Shusterman]

Unwind

Conner'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.
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Publisher's Summary

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would "unwind" them.

Conner'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 18th birthdays, they can't be harmed - but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, 18 seems far, far away.

In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges listeners' ideas about life - not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

©2009 Neal Shusterman; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    SoCalBonnie Southern California 02-17-10
    SoCalBonnie Southern California 02-17-10 Member Since 2008

    Huntress of Dirty Socks

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It won me over completely"

    My first hour into this book I was groaning: ah, me, just another sci fi tale that claims all sorts of dire consequences if [insert one political party here] gets its way.

    Stories like that always seem to simplify everything way too much. One side is always Nazi-evil to the core, and boy, who could ever have voted for them? And the other side is good good good all the way to their little tippy toes, and only a very few brave and extremely intelligent people can recognize the truth... blah, blah, blah.

    But "Unwind" did not turn out to be the simplistic "Voter Beware!" I assumed it would be. In Shusterman's world, both sides compromise in politically safe ways, screwing everything up to the point where all young people are at the mercy of adults who may arbitrarily decide to "unwind" them, and everybody rationalizes away their qualms because they're sick of the war and politics that brought them there.

    I don't think I really understood how fine this book was until we got to Sci Fy's story. That's when I began to better appreciate the narrator, too, and I really began enjoying "Unwind".

    "Unwind" has lots of memorable lingo that make total sense, which for me is the mark of a great worldbuilding author. And it's got unforgettable scenes: heroic, sad, and sometimes incredibly disturbing. (What ultimately happens to one bad boy may be too intense for younger kids to hear; as an adult I found it quite unsettling. That scene alone almost took the book from science fiction into horror, and yet there's no gore in it.)

    Best of all, the the heroes, the villains, and even the bit-players are all memorable, imperfect, totally believable people I enjoyed getting to know.

    Great job, Mr. Shusterman. I expect to read more of your work!

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 10-04-13
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 10-04-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fierce but well done"

    This is a premise so fierce that I hesitated to select the title. And I think I'm going to be haunted by this book for quite some time (at least as long as it takes me to download the second in the series, that is...) The book is set in a world of the future where the United States has fought another civil war. This time abortion is the issue instead of slavery. So a compromise has reached. A pregnancy can be aborted only retroactively by "unwinding" a kid (and harvesting all the parts, so the kid is really dead, just divided) between the ages of 13 to 18. Kind of a "try before you buy" idea. Scary, eh?

    Into this world comes Connor whose parents signed the unwind order, but instead of being taken by surprise by Juvie Cops, Connor finds out beforehand and runs. When they catch him, he resists and he escapes. He meets up with two other unwinds who join his fight to stay alive. And this is in the first fifteen minutes. The pacing is breakneck and the writing is okay. Not great, but good enough to tell the story convincingly.

    One thing that pleased me about the book is that it is neither pro-life nor pro-choice. But shows a world where ANY position, if taken far enough to the extreme, results in insanity. If there is a genre called Young Adult in a Very Disturbing Future this is it.

    Recommend.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CRISTY Bluffton, SC, United States 10-19-11
    CRISTY Bluffton, SC, United States 10-19-11

    Mommy of twins

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "“Would you rather die, or be unwound?”"

    To say that UNWIND is a disturbing concept would be an understatement for sure, but to Shusterman’s credit, he was very forthright with what to expect; from the title to the plot summery there was no hiding what this book was all about… and I can absolutely confirm, he delivers on the promised creep factor. The basic gruesome premise being that after a War in the US between the pro-lifers and the pro-choicers ends with an unthinkable compromise; abortions banned protecting a child’s life from conception until the age of 13, at which time(until the age of 18) parents have the right to unwind them. To be unwound is basically to be harvested for parts and organs, a process that is done without ever technically killing the child; therefor the Unwind lives on in a “separated state” through the recipients of each part/organ. Needless to say harvesting has become a very profitable business, so to run is to be hunted and hunted hard.

    UNWIND (Unwind Trilogy #1) is a book that I’ve almost purchased for the better part of a year now, always opting out (or more accurately put, chickening out) at the last minute. Being a fan of Neal Shusterman, I was initially intrigued, but ultimately freaked out by the concept.. I mean, “unwinding” your teen for parts if they turn out to be too much trouble… ick! But like a passing a car accident on the highway, morbid curiosity won out and I looked. Granted, I took the cowards way out, going the audio route verses actually reading the book in hard copy, usually finding it’s easier to “detach” oneself as a third party observer then to go in alone. The idea being that hearing the disturbing details would somehow lessen their impact opposed to a much more personal and all encompassing experience of reading them and becoming wholly absorbed into the story. Because a book in audio format is more akin to seeing a movie, ultimately you see a the book unfold only with your ears instead of your eyes, at least that’s what happens when the book is well written and the narrator has some chops. But when you read a book (a good book anyway), you become the character and feel what they are feeling. Well experiment coward backfired, at least when it came to the gory details. Unfortunately I failed to factor in one very crucial aspect to reading… the ability to “skip” or “skim”; an ability I lost in audio format and ability I really could have used during the last quarter of the story where things got to be a bit too much for my squeamish nature to handle. In spite of my low tolerance for the ick-factor, in the end I did manage to power through the stomach turning details and was a satisfied customer because of it.

    Narrator Luke Daniels does a superb job delivering UNWIND, giving each character a distinct voice that felt true to their individual personality. And as I’ve come to expect from Shusterman, the book is excellent, disturbing yes, but excellent none the less with an eerie, unique and thought provoking concept that gets the reader invested from the get-go. UNWIND is definitely a book I’d recommend; well paced with lots of action, a little romance and plenty of white-knuckle “no freaking way” moments, a truly exciting and horrific tale like no other.
    ... oh and by the way, "Nice Socks".

    24 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie Gatineau, QC, Canada 06-19-14
    Connie Gatineau, QC, Canada 06-19-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A story that stays with you for a long time"

    I had listened to this book when it first came out and then I came across the 3rd book of the series and I couldn't believe it, I had no idea it was a series! I listened to the first one just to remember the main characters and so on, and I found the story to be as good as the first time I read it. The narrator does a great job, one particular scene towards the end comes to mind that had me feeling that moment in the story, not just listening to it. A credit well spent!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Windsor, CT, USA 04-20-10
    Susan Windsor, CT, USA 04-20-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Gripping!"

    This book will blow your mind! It is the most gripping book I have read in the last two years. There is a twist around every corner. While the story is set in the future, our society is very close to so many of the scenarios. I teach high school reading. Many of my students were reluctant to read this at first. It scared and shocked them. But the story offers so many opportunities for discussion of current societal issues that eventually they got caught up in it. I would not recommend this book for anyone under 15 years old. The content may be too intense.

    I did not like the reader at first. I thought he was too monotone. I started to like him about half way through. By the last quarter, I really appreciated how very good the narration was. I decided that maybe he keeps the emotion in his voice purposefully restrained to let the authors's words provide the impact. Time after time I found simple sentences that conveyed huge meaning. I really liked Neal Schusterman's style. Totally worth your time and money.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Springfield, MO, United States 09-14-13
    James Springfield, MO, United States 09-14-13 Member Since 2010

    New grandpa. Married 35 great years. Drink Batch 19,Tsing Tao, and Bohemia. Read Card, King, Hobb, Sawyer, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nice Socks"

    UNWINDING MAKES SLAVERY LOOK GOOD.
    I am following 21 reviewers. I have made a list of all the books they gave 5 stars to. I had never heard of Unwind or Neal Shusterman, but it was on the five star list. This is the best book I have read or listened to since June and that was over 50 books ago.

    YOUR BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOUR NIHILISTIC.
    The subject matter of this book may seem weird at first and a little unbelievable. In this future, abortion is legal up to age 18. I know your thinking too stupid, but the author makes you believe. The story is strong and compelling. Keep in mind, In China girl babies are killed all the time, due to the one child law and the importance of male children. In my life time I can remember when divorce was rare and abortion was illegal. Girls who had sex outside of marriage where whores. Most women were virgins when they got married. T.V. was not allowed to show a couple in the same bed. In some cults here in the United States, girls of 12, 13 and 14 are married off to old men. Eleven year old boys are taken to the country, left and told not to return. (see Prophet's Prey) In the Middle East, women are property (see A Thousand Splendid Nights), they still stone people to death, etc.

    I AIN'T NO RUNAWAY, I'M A RUN TOO.
    This book not only has a great story, it has characters. These are characters you will care about. The side characters such as one called SciFi, are so good they could have there own books about them.

    IT'S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.
    The book has 68 chapters and six parts. The story builds through each part. There are several twists and turns. The description of an actual Unwind, will stay with me for a very long time. It was very intense. (Make sure you have a tissue)

    TOUCH ME NOT
    Based on this reviewers recommendations, I will be listening to The Map of Time. I will be seeking out more Neal Shusterman Novels based on the quality of this book.

    I'M A TITHE
    I am not sure I have heard Luke Daniels before and he was very good. His reading was spot on. His narration is so good you forget your listening, as the story is do deep into your head.

    YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE GRAVE AND DIG IT UP WHEN YOU WANT IT.

    17 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Myrtle Beach, SC, United States 02-07-10
    Heather Myrtle Beach, SC, United States 02-07-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A story that will stay with you always"

    It was brilliant, haunting, tragic and beautiful all at the same time. Unwind will keep you on your toes until the very last scene. If you're a fan of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies Series and Suzanne Collins Hunger Games Series then you will love this book. Luke Daniels is an amazing narrator with a voice that really draws you into Neal's wonderful book.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Ham Lake, MN, United States 05-25-14
    Deborah Ham Lake, MN, United States 05-25-14 Member Since 2008
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    "One of my all time favorites"

    I really loved this book. If you like "Hunger Games" or what-if type books on what crazy things could happen in the future, this was a very well-written, great story. I liked it so much I'm going to buy the Kindle edition as well. The narrator did a great job with the voices too.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Arlington, TX 04-29-14
    Phillip Arlington, TX 04-29-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wickedly twisted tale"

    I have nieces and nephews in the 13-20 years old range that have been raving about the YA novels they read for a few years now. So, recently, I have begun trying them out and I have to admit that some are very good and Unwind is among the best. I would give it 4.5 stars if it was allowed.

    Among the various dystopian trials and tribulations thrust upon the protagonists of YA fiction, being unwound has to be the most harrowing. In practically all novels of this genre young people face a daunting future that will require a Herculean effort to overcome. But, while death is ever-present in all of these scenarios, at least when a character dies, he is dead.

    Not so in the world of "Unwind." In this world an agreement has been reached, after a sort of pro-life/pro-abortion conflict, that makes abortion illegal but allows parents the right to unwind their children between the ages of 13-18. Unwinding is a process by which a person's body is disassembled system-by-system, organ-by-organ, and over 99% of their parts are then transplanted, grafted, etc. into other people who need them. This allows the unwound person to remain alive in a divided state. And they do remain alive (at least in a way) as becomes obvious when we meet a character who has received the frontal lobe of an unwound teen and the consciousness of the unwound frontal lobe takes over from time-to-time.

    "Unwind" follows a group of teens set to be unwound, for various different reasons, as they try, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, to avoid the authorities and remain alive in a whole state. Shusterman developed a great idea with "Unwind" and has penned a great story in which to carry it out.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Courtney HOUSTON, TX, United States 02-11-14
    Courtney HOUSTON, TX, United States 02-11-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining, but not blown away"
    Where does Unwind rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Unwind was an interesting 'read.' There were a couple of times I was going to shut it off, but I decided to stick it through to the end. I don't know if there are sequels to this book, but I now I'd not listen to them if there are.


    If you’ve listened to books by Neal Shusterman before, how does this one compare?

    This was my first book by Mr. Shusterman.


    What three words best describe Luke Daniels’s performance?

    Mediocre, harsh, jarring.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Sometimes a whole person is not whole.


    Any additional comments?

    The performance of this book was quite off-putting. Although the voice work of the characters was expertly done, during the straight "narration" bits, it seemed Mr. Daniels was yelling the book at me with little-to-no emotion.

    As for the story, if you can get over some of the (rather large) assumptions about politics and history, you'll probably find the story compelling.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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