This review also appears on the NerdHerd Reads
How does one even begin to review such an amazing book? I'm not even exaggerating; this is one of my favorite books ever.
Unwind takes place in a futuristic society. But it's still America. This isn't some far off future in some far off land. After the prolife/prochoice war, the two sides came up with a compromise: unwinding. The novel follows three main characters, scheduled for unwinding: Connor, Risa, and Levi. Each have their own unique stories, that meld together. Connor, a "problem" child. Risa, a ward of the state. And Lev, a tithe. Shusterman uses these three to address other, smaller issues, that lead to the big issue.
With Connor, he tackles the issue of problem children. So often, society wants to write the bad kids off. There's no hope for them, they'll just end up in jail, they're somebody else's problem, etc. Shusterman delves deeper in his mind, showing us why he is the way he is, what makes him tick. He shows us that maybe the way to deal with these kids isn't to write them off, but to help them, understand them. And in the end, Connor proves everyone wrong, becoming someone I'm sure his parents and teachers never thought he would be.
With Risa, he tackles the issue of government institutions. The wards of the state are children just like any other, but they aren't really treated like such. It isn't so much a dig, I don't think, as it is trying to make people aware of the realities. Because even though this may take place in an advanced, future society, the issue is still the same. State homes and orphanages are overrun, underfunded, and not cared for. There are kids like Risa who may be talented, but sometimes it isn't enough. In our world, they get thrown on the street. Risa gets scheduled for unwinding.
And with Lev, he tackles the religious aspect. Again, I don't think it was so much saying it's terrible and wrong as it is pointing out the flaws. After all, in the end, Lev did accept God that doesn't believe in unwinding.
And of course, the big issue of abortion. Prochoice verses prolife. I mean, it's the whole basis of the book. We're not going to get into a discussion here about it, but he makes some amazing points on the subject.
But more than being just political satire, Unwind is just a great story. It's fast-paced, adventurous, even emotional, and has the slightest bit of romance. And unlike most YA books, this is a book both girls and guys can enjoy and love. I know kids who hate reading who read this and loved it.
Honestly. I just love this book so much. It's one I'll recommend to anybody, and one I think every teen should read. The second book, UnWholly, was amazing too. It may not be just as good as Unwind, but only because nothing can touch that. The third book, UnSouled, is scheduled to come out this fall. And Shusterman has announced that there is actually going to be a fourth book as well now. UnDivided is scheduled to come out next spring. There is also a novella that comes after Unwind called UnStrung, and it's from Lev's perspective.