Thursday, April 3, 2008

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I recommend this book for: grade 7 and up

Sometimes teens feel like the world doesn't respect them or treat them like real people, and they have a point. But just wait until they read this . . .

In a future America, abortion has been banned. The population explodes, and to make up for it, unwinding has been introduced. Everyone has the chance to live up to age 13. Between the ages of 13 and 18, legal guardians have the option of having their children unwound - sent to a harvest camp to be essentially recycled for parts. Instead of fixing medical problems, surgeons replace the organs and limbs of adults with healthy young parts from unwinds. An unwinding order is irreversible, and there's an entire force of juvie cops dedicated to finding runaway unwinds and bringing them in to serve their useful purpose.

In alternating chapters, Unwind tells the story of three teens sent to be unwound. Connor ran away from home when he found out that his parents were sending him to harvest camp because of his problematic behavior. Along the way he encounters (and kidnaps) Lev, a 13 year old who has been prepared for unwinding from his childhood - his parents are offering him as a tithe, as prescribed by their religion. Then there's Risa, an orphaned piano player who was deemed by the state not quite good enough to justify the cost of keeping her in one piece. The three band together to face the challenge of staying alive to 18, and the difficult process puts them in the path of the law, terrorists, and outlaws who help unwinds in a modern day Underground Railroad. This is a chilling and fascinating book, with characters who are as complex as the world in which they live. I became deeply attached to the three main characters, and the various story threads are woven together beautifully. I'll be recommending this one to older fans of Shadow Children and scary stories, but not to kids who can't handle a bit of the disturbing. This is a story that will stay with readers.

Really? No reviews on Amazon? There is an excerpt of the first chapter, though!

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