October 11 – 17
America as we know it has changed. Parents may now 'unwind' their teenagers and reuse their body parts and 'stork' their unwanted newborns. In this story, we meet three teens who are selected for unwinding and follow them on their fight to stay alive (as complete wholes) in this dark tale of survival.
Shusterman, N. (2007). Unwind. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Intense. This book was really intense. I found myself not able to stop reading, yet not wanting to know any more. I think this book explores something that has been a bit of a fascination of teens over a long period of time: dystopian societies. It's books like these that allow teens to explore what could be, but at the same time there is the comfort that our lives are not like this at all.
From Publishers Weekly:
Ages 13-up. Shusterman (Everlost) explores one of the most divisive of topics--abortion--in this gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller. After a civil war waged over abortion has almost destroyed America, completely new laws are in effect. Human life can never be 'terminated,' but between the ages of 13 and 18, a child can be 'unwound' by his parents, an irrevocable decision that leads to every single bit of his body being harvested for medical use. As the novel opens, 16-year-old Connor has secretly discovered his parents' copy of his unwind order, and decides to 'kick-AWOL,' or run away. Connor's escape inadvertently sweeps up two other Unwinds: a ward of the state who is not quite talented enough to merit her place in a state home any longer, and the 10th son of religious parents, who gave birth to him just to 'tithe' him. Beyond his pulse-pounding pace, the cliffhangers and the bombshells, Shusterman has a gift for extrapolating the effects of alien circumstances on ordinary people and everyday behavior. He brings in folklore, medical practices, and slang that reflect the impact of unwinding, creating a dense and believable backdrop. Characters undergo profound changes in a plot that never stops surprising readers. The issues raised could not be more provocative-- the sanctity of life, the meaning of being human--while the delivery could hardly be more engrossing or better aimed to teens. (Nov.). 352pg. CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c2007.
[Book Review of Unwind]. (2007 November 26). Publishers Weekly, pp 54.
From School Library Journal:
Gr 9 Up-An unsettling futuristic novel set after the Second Civil War. Connor Lassiter, age 16, runs away from his suburban Ohio home after discovering that his parents have scheduled his 'unwinding.' His body parts will go to other people who need them. He will be both terminated and 'technically' kept alive, only in a separated state. The constitutional amendments known as 'The Bill of Life' permit parents to choose 'retroactive' abortion for children between the ages of 13 and 18. Connor meets another Unwind, Risa, and they kidnap Lev, who is a Tithe (the 10th child born to a single family with the express purpose of being unwound). Their escape and survival stories interweave as they struggle to avoid harvest camps. Luckily, an underground network is helping Unwinds escape to safety. There is evenhanded, thoughtful treatment of many issues, including when life starts and stops, consciousness, religion, free will, law, trust and betrayal, suicide bombers, and hope. Initially, the premise of parents dismantling their children is hard to accept; however, readers are quickly drawn into the story, which is told in a gripping, omniscient voice. Characters live and breathe; they are fully realized and complex, sometimes making wrenchingly difficult decisions. This is a thought-provoking, well- paced read that will appeal widely, especially to readers who enjoy Scott Westerfeld's Uglies (2005), Pretties (2005), and Specials (2006, all S & S).-Amy J. Chow, New York Public Library. 352pg. CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c2008.
Chow, A.J. (2008 January 1). [Book Review of Unwind]. School Library Journal, pp 126.
Library Setting Uses:
I recently used this book in a book talk with teens about dystopian societies. As depressing as this grouping of books can be, most teens will either have read or will want to read these books. Presenting them with other similar stories is a great way to build individual reader's advisory and will give them a preview of each book in order to decide if they want to read it themselves.