Genres: Young adult, dystopian, science fiction.
In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them.
Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.
4.3 average is a really good score for Goodreads. 51% of people who read it gave it 5/5. It’s one of those books that hasn’t had a lot of publicity yet people seem to know about anyway. It was originally published in 2007 and so it wasn’t written to leech off the success of The Hunger Games. I had very high expectations for this book.
I was drawn in at the very first moment as on the first page of the book you are confronted with The Bill of Life:
“…between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to restroactively “abort” a child… on the condition that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end.”
Now if that’s not enough to get your attention, I’m not sure what will. I had to re-read it several times just to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding. You can choose to abort your child as a teenager? Really? Wow. You may think this would result in the story being completely unbelievable – parents deciding they’ve had enough of their child and so essentially sentencing him or her to death. However, instead of dying in the way we know it, all body parts of a teenager are used up e.g. blood, skin, organs, hair, everything. The story is told continously through the eyes of three main characters: Conner, Risa and Lev. Three “Unwounds” trying to escape before their time is up.
However, Shusterman avoids the over-dramatic, over-the-top scenarios that could have been present and manages to make the entire story real by focusing on the individual lives, emotions and beliefs of three teenagers and what brought them to their present day situation, while still managing to demonstrated the bigger picture and the consequences of “unwinding”.
It only took me two days to read this book as I was completely absorbed in the storyline, emotionally involved in each character’s fate, and every chapter left me hanging on (with a few in particular making me shudder!).
While I don’t think unwinding as a “pro-life” and “pro-choice” solution would ever be a logical solution, Shusterman writes well enough to make you believe that in this strict, and (what appears to be) an emotionless, clinical society, it is logical. He writes so clearly that the entire book was played like a movie inside my head. This is definitely one of those “must read” books for fans of young-adult dystopian literature.
My Rating: ★★★★★