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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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Performance
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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!

    28 of 29 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.

    17 of 18 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".

    25 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 09-30-12
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 09-30-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Powerful and unsettling societal evolution"

    Shusterman's Unwind posits a nearly unthinkable evolution in societal norms: teenagers may be "unwound" by their parents or guardians. To be unwound implies total dissection and a recycling of all body parts for needed transplantations. While the sci-fi elements are subdued and quite subtle, the backstory for how society arrived in this state is detailed. Essentially, the confrontation between pro-life and pro-choice, having led to civil war was adjudicated in a classical "Solomonic" fashion by decreeing that all conceptions were sacrosanct, but between the ages of 13 - 18 a child could be retroactively "aborted" or unwound in such a fashion that by utilizing all bodyparts, the person is not considered to have been killed, but rather surviving in a distributed state.

    As ghastly medieval as this sounds, Shusterman adds in subtle analogies to slavery where similarly incomprehensible and contradictory attitudes about human life were maintained, but instead of a civil war to end as for slavery, unwindng was instituted to prevent civil war. Following along the slavery theme, Shusterman adds an underground railroad supported by opponents of the status quo. We follow the escape and exploits of three unwinds with very different circumstances and backgrounds.

    The timeframe is the near future (ipods are from their grandparents' generation). The sci-fi elements are minimal except for a reference to nerve grafting that made transplants easier, as well as liquid explosives that can be placed in blood. Other than these features, technology and people are quite familiar. This story is like a funhouse mirror that distorts our views sightly, but sufficient enough to require closer inspection of our values and ideals.

    The narration is superb with an excellent range of voices, both male and female as well as young and old. While this may be considered in the teen genre as it is a classic coming-of-age tale, this is still heady stuff for any serious listener.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Parkton, MD, United States 01-25-12
    Sarah Parkton, MD, United States 01-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Inklings Read Reviews: Unwind"

    Imagine for a second that you are a teen living in a world where at any moment your parents or guardians may choose to have you unwound. If you disobey them or become unwanted in any way, they may sign the papers and have you shipped off to a “harvest camp” where you will be prepped and then taken piece by piece. If you’re born into the right religion you may even have the privilege of being tithed (aka unwound with an honorable connotation). Satisfying both pro-life and pro-choice advocates, the justification of unwinding is that the teens live on within the bodies of the people given their parts. Disturbing? Definitely. Unrealistic? A bit… But this story and the characters brought such life to the idea, that is quickly became real.

    Unwind has a very chilling concept! I loved it. Being my first audiobook experience, it took a little getting used to. I think I adjusted to listening vs. reading pretty fast. The narrator, Luke Daniels, was great!! He must have had over 10 original voices. It was very impressive and brought another dimension to the story.

    Surprisingly, this was not a very emotional book. I expected it to be, but it was more- sit-at-the-edge-of-your-seat I-must-know-what-will-happen-next addicting. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a little love story in the background that was not gushy whatsoever.

    Neal Shusterman has a definite winner here! Unwind is a chilling, action-packed, nail-biting, thriller. Supposedly Neal is working on a second book in the series titled, Unwholly that is due out in September 2012. You can bet I will be trying to get my hands on an ARC of that one! It also appears that Neal is working on the script to a movie based on Unwind. I’m extremely excited for that as well! Give this book a shot, or better yet try this as an audiobook, and you will guaranteed a thrilling ride.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jendayi Dillard 06-24-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Story starts slow, but hang in there!!"
    Any additional comments?

    The story starts out feeling slow and extremely heavy-handed. Stick with it. It gets so much better! Many, many moments that are beautiful, striking, suspenseful... overall, awesome book!

    3 of 3 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 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 04-20-12
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 04-20-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Truly shocking premise!"

    Overall, an enjoyable listen. It didn't grab me like HG did, but it is still a quite good story which held my interest and made me care about the characters.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Felicity Fairchild 07-14-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Very Good."

    It was shocking how amazing this book is. It's not just some ordinary si-fi, if you are a fan of the hunger games or the uglies series, this book would be the best choice.

    7 of 8 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.

    18 of 22 people found this review helpful
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