Book Title: Unwind
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Unwind #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Source: Kindle E-Book (Library)
♫I'm Alive by Disturbed --for all the Unwinds…I feel like they've (society) really lost sight of this fact.♫
The Feels: 4.5/5
Backdrop (World Building): 4/5
Book Cover: 3/5
Ending: 4.5/5 Cliffhanger: Until next time…
Will I continue this series? That's a good question…probably
While this is extremely well written, I just have a difficult time believing that society as a whole could get to this point; where they would rather give up on their troubled kids and essentially kill them. Also, how could they ever think that harvesting organs from their kids for other people is a way for them to "live on"…the whole thing is extremely f*cked up. And therein lies the rub…or the genius of this story…because if there is one thing it evoked in me it is feelings, all kinds of feelings.
That being said it did take about half the book before I felt truly invested in it, with a rather slow build. The character development falling into that same vein, you're given just enough to slowly be drawn into this world, until you realize; your kind of hooked on their story…
Sex Factor: No, not really.
This is a hard book to review because I have so many problems with it, but I love it so much. Also, I feel weird for loving it because it’s a severely messed-up story. Seriously, unwinding is yucky business.
People have been telling me for years that I need to read Unwind, but I’ve been avoiding it for two reasons:
Reason #1: I was worried that it would be another tropey YA dystopia. I’ve read more than enough of those.
Reason #2: That creepy human/fingerprint critter on the cover. It’s not creepy in an “I need to read this book immediately” way. It’s creepy in an “I don’t want that ugly bugger staring at me from the bedside table while I sleep” way.
Then, I heard people comparing this book to The Hunger Games. I was in the mood for something fast-paced and deadly, so I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. This book was exactly what I wanted. Don’t you love it when that happens?
I think the comparisons to The Hunger Games are valid, even though Unwind was published first. Both books are action-packed and feature teens who are rebelling against the government in order to save their lives. Both books also require the same type of suspension of disbelief. In The Hunger Games the government murders teens to keep the peace. In Unwind the government murders teens because that somehow satisfies both the pro-life and pro-choice people. All of this teen-murdering leads me to believe that our modern government is not killing nearly enough teens. Teen-murder seems to solve a lot of problems. Temporarily, at least.
Anyway, Unwind follows a group of teens who are trying to avoid being “unwound.” Their parents or the government are forcing them to give up their bodies. Every part of them will be donated to a person who needs it. No one is sure what happens to the teens’ consciousness when they are unwound. People don’t know if the teens die, or if they continue to live in a “divided state.”
This is a difficult book for me to review: I had a hard time buying the premise, but I couldn’t stop reading. It has been a long time since I got through a book this quickly. I needed to know what happened next because some parts of this novel are downright scary. I was worried for the characters. Every time I wasn’t reading this book, I wanted to be reading it. I was completely hooked once I got past my disbelief.
The story is told from multiple perspectives. My favorite perspective is Lev’s—he starts out wanting to be unwound as part of his religious duties, but he goes through a huge transformation over the course of the book. He’s the most well-developed and complex of the characters. I know that this book is part of a series, so I hope the other characters develop the same level of complexity as the series progresses.
Even though I love this book, there are two tiny things that distracted me. First, my edition has noticeable typos. These may have been fixed in newer editions. Second, the perspectives occasionally get slightly murky. The chapter headings suggest that this book is written in limited third-person point-of-view with alternating perspectives. Most of the book is written that way, but the third-person narrator occasionally breaks out of that limited perspective and becomes omniscient. It’s not confusing at all, and it builds suspense, so it’s technically not a problem, but it distracted me.
I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I think it’s brave for an author to take on the abortion debate in a fiction book. I’m interested to see what happens next.
Best "What I Learned After I Was Dead" Book: Between
Best Family I Want To Keep Reading About: Family From One End Street
Best Pictures: Little Elliot, Big Family
Best Fantasy Children's Series: Kronos Chronicles
Best YA Series With an Off-Putting Name (Project Paper Doll? Really????): Project Paper Doll
Best Series I Couldn't Wait to End (Because the Premise Was Gruesome), Yet Loved: Unwind
Best "This Is How Regency Should Be Written": Nobody
This entry is brought to you as part of the theme sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish. I'm pretty sure that since this is Halloween themed, there are going to be many interesting entries for this one.
So, on Halloween, many would think of candy, Halloween goodies, and dressing up in all kinds of costumes (my personal favorite was dressing up as Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Disney version. The costume I had actually had coins sewn onto the sash of the skirt.) They would also think of spooky stories. I wouldn't consider myself the kind of person who scares easily (*knocks on wood in the hopes that she doesn't end up eating her words later on*), but there's something cathartic about being scared in a good book.
So this entry's dedicated to some horror (either themed or genre) reads that I personally enjoyed. No particular order here, just going with the flow.
1. "It" by Stephen King
Seriously, is anyone surprised I'd put Stephen King on this list? I could probably list many of his books, but "IT" genuinely scared me while at the same time leaving me not terrified of clowns for life. (I'm serious - I do not find clowns horrifying. I actually like creepy carnival environments or carnipunk themed stories. It's the theme to one of the manuscripts I've been working on the past year. Living animatronics- a la Five Nights at Freddy's, though? That...does terrify me to a certain extent, but depends on how it's done.) I'm due for a re-read of this book (and basically many of SK's early works), because many of them I haven't read since my teens/early 20s.
2. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Basically, I could put the whole John Cleaver series on this list, but there's something about "I Am Not a Serial Killer" that left its mark on me. There are genuinely terrifying moments in this YA crossover series, and some of it is a battle of internal and external demons (some literal, some not). I enjoyed it because John's voice appealed to me with dark, candid humor, blended with harrowing moments the serial killer struck (and yeah, I knew its genre leaning from the get go).
3. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
I thoroughly enjoyed "Something Wicked This Way Comes" - it's part horror, part coming of age, and the writing - to me - was beautifully poetic while having some genuinely creepy tones to it throughout the narrative. I also probably loved this one given my love for creepy carnival environments (see explanation above for "IT"). The movie adaptation I thought was very well done for this.
4. Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins
I honestly did not even know this book was a thing until I browsed the first volume of this comic at my local library, then got a galley for the entire series from NetGalley (which I've yet to review). But OMG, this was dark. And funny. Pinocchio breaking off his nose to use as an attack stake to kill vampires? The concept of it was brilliant, and kudos for the creativity in the backstory. This was a mashup of a classic story with a horror theme that worked rather well, and I'm glad I read it.
5. Batman - Red Rain
While on the subject of comics, I remember Batman - Red Rain rather vividly. The Batman franchise has had a number of holiday themed comics that stood out to me (I think I remember the one called "Haunted Knight" that I liked as well.) But this was the first where I looked at the story drawn between Batman and Dracula and went "Well...darn. That's a good parallel." It had some dated elements to it, but I was drawn into the story and I'll admit it didn't let me go even in this first part of a respective series.
6. "Unwind" by Neal Shusterman
So I know that this is a YA dystopian series, but it counts as horror. Namely because once you read the process of what "unwinding" is like...it's horrifying. I loved this book so much. Shusterman just does description so well.
7. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
I found the first book in this series to be the best and the most successful in creating its creepy and distinctive characters, and it's one of my favorites in terms of establishing a narrative ghost story as well. It was fun in moments too.
8. Frenzy by Robert Lettrick
"Frenzy" was middle grade horror done right, especially in the vein of rabid animals attacking and killing off the cast of characters in the midst of a camp site. I didn't expect to be so emotionally drawn into it. It was one of those narratives where I'm like "NOOOOOO, PLEASE DON'T DIE! DON'T SAY HE'S/SHE'S DEAD!" Yeah. It was like that.
9. The Birds by Daphne DuMaurier
This story is the reason why I look up to the sky and hope a flock of birds do not come swooping down to peck me to death. I'm not especially terrified of birds, but I mean, the narrative gives one second thoughts.
10. Feed by Mira Grant
Because bloggers saving the world from zombies equals...a whole lot of chaos and political turmoil. The Newsflesh series had many harrowing moments, and the ending of this really got to me on an emotional level (though arguably, with events of the series, one could say it's not the whole story, but it still packed a punch for me).
Until next entry,