“Unwind” – Ethics, Moral Questions and Possible Consequences Create a Dystopian Nightmare

Book Review : Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Spoiler Alert!

The Second Civil War was fought over the pro-choice vs pro-life debate in The United States. The solution to end the war was a compromise, to unwind those who are no longer wanted. Unwanted teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 are the only ones eligible to be unwound. Unwinding uses every part of the person as they are disassembled, and because the parts are still alive in another person no one has died. Now there are no more abortions and everyone has the chance at life, now life is seen as being sacred, but your opinion might be different if you are the one to be unwound.

Conner has been causing trouble at home and school, and his parents have decided to have him unwound. Risa is going to be unwound to keep costs down at the State Home orphanage. Lev has always known he would be unwound because he is a religious tithe, a gift to the world from his parents. Survival is the goal.

Adult Point of View

Unnerving. Thought-provoking. Chilling. Chaotic. Adrenaline rush.

A world gone mad and perhaps a world handed down from today. Unwind is a must read novel for everyone. The reader will need to suspend their disbelief to jump into the world of unwinding troublesome teens, but it’s worth it. How can we teach our kids that there are unforeseen consequences for their actions? How do we show kids that apathy must end? How do we teach ethics and morals when there are so many conflicts?

Unwind explores pertinent questions, at a young adult level, that have developed in recent years.

Questions include:

When does life begin?

Is it ethical to use cord blood from infants?

Should we harvest organs for transplants?

Is it acceptable for gays to marry, or in this novel be “mmarried”?

Is life sacred?

How does religion fit into society?

Do laws develop to sustain morals?

When does “someone else’s problem” become my problem?

How deeply does divorce divide children?

Why don’t we, as a society, protect children?

I was riveted while reading Unwind. I liked the characters and Shusterman’s writing style. Conner, as the main character, grew and was multi-faceted. I was particularly happy that there were unexpected twists and turns. For example, I never would have thought that Conner would have taken on an infant that had been storked while on the run. I also love the fact that Shusterman is not preaching, but rather presents a set of logical consequences to the choices people could make and develops a societal horror.

This should be read by high school students because of the mature questions being posed. There is only a little bit of rough language and very limited sexual innuendo.

Readers who enjoyed this book might like The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and The Giver by Lois Lowry.

4.25 out of 5 stars

– the Mother

Teen Point of View

I thought this book was a fun read. I thought the only disturbing thing was that Connor received an arm from his nemesis. I would have liked more disturbing things though to really push the boundaries of the questions asked. I disliked Lev’s character but loved Connor’s. I think this is a fun read for teenagers.

3.5 out of 5

– the Daughter

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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