Teen Book Reviews

Northeast Library

Teen Book Reviews

by Brandon Digwood

I can’t seem to find anyone at the local middle schools doing a theme for reading this month, except for reader’s choice. With that in mind, I would like to review one of my favorite books that I’ve read recently, Unwind by Neal Shusterman

The Heartland War was a defining moment in the world’s history.  The vicious civil war between the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice factions was only ended when the Bill of Life was passed.  This set of laws made life inviolable from conception to the age of thirteen.  However, between the age of thirteen to eighteen, parents could choose to have the life of their child retroactively terminated by having them unwound, a procedure that breaks them up into their separate organs and has those organs transplanted into other people.  Technically, their life doesn’t end, as all the parts of them live on in other people.  But don’t try telling that to Connor, Risa, and Lev.  Connor is a troublemaking kid his parents cannot control and Risa is a ward of the state, unwanted and not talented enough to be kept alive.  Lev is a tithe, born and bred to be unwound as part of his faith.  Watch as all three kids desperately try to escape their situation, and do something to save all the others like them.

This is a book that can speak to everyone who reads it on a variety of levels.  On the one hand, we have an action-filled plot with complex characters.  Connor and Risa both rage against the fate that has been cast for them, but it helps them become responsible teens as they do their best to survive and help others to do so as well.  It’s also interesting to see the conflict they have with Roland, another Unwind, and how it ends up eclipsed in the end by the overall threat of them being unwound when they are captured and taken to a harvest camp. The setting of the story is filled with little details that make this a complex and believable world.  What happens to all the babies of unwanted pregnancies now that abortion is outlawed?  How does the state system cope with having to suddenly take of a thousand more times kids than they are used to dealing with?  Regardless of where you stand on the pro-life or pro-choice issue, this book will make you rethink your motivations and prompt discussion about how to survive when your life is cheap but your organs are not.

Unwind is recommended for mid to late teen readers.  Check out this thrilling book at Northeast and other branches of the DC Public Library.