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review 2018-02-28 20:47
UnDivided (Unwind Dystology) - Neal Shusterman

This is a near-five-star read. Really excellent writing, storytelling, and intelligent critiquing/interrogating of culture. Shusterman has an absolute genius for weaving exciting, twisty plot threads and more character arcs than should be possible together at the last moment for explosive, satisfying endings. Loved so many characters, but especially (mildly spoilerish warning:) Gracie, the "low-cortical" surprise hero who uses her particular skills to basically save the world. I think she's supposed to be something like autistic? But her way of looking at the world turns out to be exactly what's needed. Awesomeness.

 

This is still a pretty depressing premise that calls out human selfishness and irresponsibility in a big way, to the extent that the ending was somewhat implausible, but who wants to read a series about how we're ruining the world with no happy ending in sight? I enjoyed the read, and loved (/feared) the chapter-intro content all the way through the series. In early books, Shusterman used PSA and marketing-style ads to play up the way propaganda and corporate manipulation/marketing worked on people's fears and clouded their thinking. This last book uses actual headlines and articles from the last decade or so to show just how terrifyingly plausible this dystopian future really could be. Smart way to build tension and horror undertones (overtones?) while also proving that the author did an incredible job on the research and world-building.

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review 2018-02-15 20:22
Disposable kids, human selfishness, and deadly irresponsibility
Unwind - Neal Shusterman

Well, it's official. Shusterman is obsessed with death. Or perhaps more accurately, with our social, systematic, and personal relationships with death.

 

It's crazy reading through his backlist having been introduced to his work through Scythe, because so many of the same ideas that he's developed so wonderfully in the Arc of a Scythe series pop up in his earlier work.

 

The Unwind Dystology uses the two camps of abortion activists as a jumping off point to develop a dystopian future where both have lost and population control is dealt with by harvesting unwanted teens for their organs. There is some exploration of the perspectives on abortion and what it says about human beliefs and human nature, including: unwanted babies are a burden on society, no one can prove when (or if) a soul exists in a human, adults are frequently irresponsible and want to be freed of the consequences of their actions, teens are a hassle to deal with, organ harvesting is big business, it sucks how much women have to take on, everyone wants to not be the last one left holding the bag. But really, what this first book, at least, leaves you with is not an argument for one camp or the other (women's rights vs. infant rights), but rather that humans are mostly trash.

 

I mean, that makes it sound more depressing than it is as a read. It's fast-paced and entertaining, with well-developed characters and oodles of conflict. I basically read it in a sitting (hello 3 am, my old friend!) But what comes out clearly is that no one wants to deal with nasty chores and the burden of being responsible for someone else. There's the time adults in a community passed around an unwanted baby in a weeks-long game of "hot potato" until it died of neglect. There are the parents who went nuts with having kids and adopting unwanted babies, ultimately to decide to "tithe" the 10th one as a human sacrifice out of some twisted interpretation of their religion. There's the young teen mother who abandons her infant on a doorstep, assuming the wealthy family there will be better able to care for it. There are the parents of teens who, for various reasons, choose to give up troublemakers and disappointments. There's the state, which harvests orphanage kids to finance raising the younger ones. We're told that the demand for organ donation is so high because the adults en masse are more comfortable with kids being "unwound" to parts than they are signing organ donation cards in the event of their own death.

 

So basically, people treat people like trash most of the time. And teens are the least likely to get any sympathy. And most of our bad behaviour comes down to economic reasons, comfort, and convenience.

 

There are heroes, of course. The troublemaking teen who escapes, channels his anger and discontentment into leadership and rescues others. The father who tries to make up for the sacrifice of his own son to save others. The "underground railroad" that works to save fleeing kids because they still believe in something besides convenience and passing the buck. The brainwashed religious (cult) kid who learns his own life and the lives of others have value after all. But those heroes are few - greatly outnumbered by the careless masses.

 

And the series continues. Maybe there's hope for the rest of humanity. Maybe if they're forced to confront the ugly reality of the cost of their normalcy, they'll choose to sacrifice something of their own, and not just tap off kids to sacrifice for them. Or maybe not. Maybe they'll just shift the blame once more to a population without the power to protect themselves. The unborn. The elderly. The damaged. Another nation. Another skin colour. Another religion. Because without something big enough to believe in and convince us to sacrifice our comfort and convenience, most of us subside into willfull ignorance. But hey, idk, maybe that's not where the series is headed. After all, fiction is all about the escapist happy endings, right?

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review 2018-02-07 02:20
Unwholly - audiobook
UnWholly (Unwind, #2) - Neal Shusterman,Luke Daniels

**If you haven't read Unwind, there may be spoilers in the following review.**

 

 

Book 2 in the Unwind series continues to follow the story of Connor, Risa, and Lev along with a few new and interesting characters. There's Nelson, a "parts pirate," determined to track down Connor and turn him over to the Juvenile Authority for "unwinding," Starkey, a power hungry kid who wants to usurp Connor and take control, and even Cam, a teenager created using the parts from various unwound kids. They call Cam a "rewind" but he is like Frankenstein and he doesn't even know if he is "real." The chapters alternate between different character's POVs and the narrator does a good job giving them different voices and personalities. In between chapters are actual news articles about organ harvesting and abandoned and "feral" teens. (The only thing annoying about that is hearing the narrator spell out the entire websites where the articles are found, something you wouldn't have to read yourself and would probably gloss over.)

 

This series continues to twist your expectations in new ways. I loved this just as much, if not more than the first one. The plot twists at the end made me jump right into book 3.

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review 2018-01-12 04:00
Unwind - audiobook
Unwind - -Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged-,Neal Shusterman,Luke Daniels

 

In a not-so-distant future, the pro-choice and pro-life forces went to war. The compromise that ended the war was The Bill of Life. Under this bill, human life is protected from the moment of conception until the age of 13. Between the ages of 13 & 17, parents can choose to have their children "unwound". Unwinding is a process that harvests ninety-something percent of the body and then transplants the parts into other people's bodies. Supposedly, this means the child doesn't die but lives on divided into the bodies of other people.

 

Three children selected for unwinding for various reasons come together in this story, Connor, Risa & Lev. The reasons they became unwinds vary as much as their outlooks on life, but they are thrown together by circumstances and must find a way to survive together.

 

WOW. I loved this book. The plot is complex and exciting, the characters are flawed (in other words, human), and the circumstances are believable. The idea of unwinding is just terrible, but somehow it is common practice in this world. There are a lot of details I won't mention because I wouldn't want to spoil this book. But, the most intense and disturbing are the moments the reader witnesses an unwinding - chilling. And all the more so in the audio version. The voices and the technique the narrator uses fit the situation perfectly.

 

I love the story, the narration, everything about this book. I purchased the next 3 books in the series and have already started listening to book 2 - UnWholly.

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review 2017-02-25 23:48
Unwind - Tia Fielding

more like 2.75 stars...

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