the NerdHerd Reads

Just a self-proclaimed nerd who likes to read and review (mostly YA) books. You can find me on my blog The NerdHerd Reads or on Twitter @nerdherdreads. Might drink too much coffee ;) 

UnStrung {by Neal Shusterman}

UnStrung - Neal Shusterman, Michelle Knowlden

This review can also be found on the NerdHerd Reads


For something so small, this sure packed a lot into it. This story takes place after Lev leaves Cyrus, before he makes it to the Graveyard. Lev runs while everyone is still distracted by CyFi, and makes it over the wall of a "Rez". Fortunately for him, he makes it to a "Hi-Rez" instead of a "Low-Rez". But Lev is no longer the naive, happy kid he was. He is angry and bitter at the whole world. Here, he meets Wil, whose talent for music can literally heal.


Shusterman has made a very thorough dystopian world in this series. Here, we also get to see what happened to Native Americans. They live on reservations ("rez"), although some are poor and some are rich (hence, "hi-rez" and "low-rez"). The American Indians, now called ChanceFolk, refused to sign the Unwind Accord, and so do not take place in unwinding or receiving parts. Instead, they have perfected the transfer of animal parts to humans. They take in AWOL Unwinds, like Lev, if their petition to join the tribe is approved.


I also enjoyed the new characters. Wil takes Lev under his wing as he shows him around. Wil has a gift for music, one that can affect emotions, or bring emotional healing. He is used all over the rez for his gift, the latest one being his grandfather who wants him to play over his passing. But Wil is tired of this. He wants to go out into the world, to be appreciated for his music, to play in front of crowds and hear applause. (The rez does not believe in applause because of pride and such.)


Here, Lev makes the first steps into what could have been a change. But when something happens to Wil--something that also gets Lev's petition to be adopted by the rez denied--Lev not only becomes angry and bitter again, he becomes even more so. This part, and what happens to Wil, will definitely play with your emotions. For a short story, this was actually pretty thorough and moving, something usually lacking in novellas because they are so short. So it was a pleasant surprise that Shusterman actually was able to make this almost as good as a full-length book. This will definitely have you wanting more in the series, if you haven't read UnWholly yet. And if you have, well, you'll still be wanting more.


Lev is determined to bring the world down, using his hands. The hands that could not applaud for Wil. And that is the story of how Lev became a clapper.