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.
Huntress of Dirty Socks
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!
Mommy of twins
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".
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.
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.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” ― Ernest Hemingway
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.
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.
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.
Mind like a steel trap: Rusty, dangerous and banned in 37 states.
Maybe. Depends on the friend. It's VERY unsettling - I would NOT recommend it for anyone under 15 or anyone who is sensitive, and it takes a lot for me to say that. I am a Stephen King fan, and a dystopian sci-fi/fantasy fan. That said - there was a scene in this book that (quite literally) kept me awake most of the night and left me tossing and turning with terrible dreams afterward. The depiction of the unwinding process was - no exaggeration - traumatizing, and I'm a grown woman with a strong stomach. Most of my friends would be upset by this, so no, I don't think I would recommend it for them.
It is well written with strong, multi-faceted characters. There were some unexpected revelations, some twists. It's intricately layered without the simple black-white, good-evil, us-them kind of politics that make the grey areas palatable. It's challenging intellectually, and makes you think.
No. I found the narrator ... irritating, for some reason. I had to force myself to keep listening through the first few chapters - I half-wish I had read the book instead of listening.
This is hard to answer. Yes... and no. I was so deeply disturbed that I wish I'd never listened to it. But the writer is exceptional - layering plotlines, twisting things together in a beautiful pattern, creating characters that seemed to come alive - but in the end, I was so deeply disturbed that I will not listen to it again, nor will I be sharing it with the family members who I usually listen to audiobooks with.
I am a parent and now grandparent who generally allows children to read whatever they're interested in within reason - Other than extreme violence or explicit sexuality, I have never restricted a book before. That said - I wouldn't let my children read this before 8th grade, and even then it'd be dependent on the personality and resilience of the child, and I'd make sure I was available to talk to them about it. This book deals with issues that you'll definitely want to discuss with your kids, not let them listen to solo.
I'm trying to wean myself and learn to function without earbuds for more than ten minutes at a time. It hasn't been easy. I lose balance...
I enjoyed this book on a few levels. The basic premise has less to do with birth rights and more to do with expectations and disappointment. You screw up, you can be recycled. As terrifying as that is, it's the growth the kids experience that was missing in their former lives that makes a poignant truth arise... you reap what you sow as parents as much as anyone being punished for failing to meet expectations. Interesting.
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