These two Unwinds are out of control. [...] They need to be protected from themselves. They need ... they need ... they need to be unwound. Yes. [...] It would probably be a relief for them, for now they're all broken up on the inside. Better to be broken up on the outside instead. That way their divided spirits could rest, knowing that their living flesh was spread around the world, saving lives, making other people whole. Just as his own spirit would soon rest.
There is only one thing occupying Connor's head these days and that is his upcoming unwinding. After the Second Civil War, a new law came into effect: the lives of children up to the age of 13 was well-protected. Beyond that, parents could choose to unwind their child - meaning allow the government to amputate every part of the child's body and use these parts for research or medical treatment. Since Connor's parents are no longer able to have any amount of control over him, they decide to unwind him. But Connor has other ideas and so he escapes one night. Somehow during his escape, he manages to cross paths with another unwind, Risa, whose state home could no longer afford to keep her in its care and a tithe, Lev, who was brought up by his parents just to give him up for unwinding - considered to be a holy action. Together, the three stumble across a hidden hive of unwinds and try to stay away from the authorities, until things go wrong.
My brother had been behind me to read this book, ever since he first read it a few years ago. I was pretty hesitant. Certain YA books just don't seem to work for me, and I still had no way of knowing how to recognize them before even turning a page. One day, I picked this book from the library for the husband to read, who devoured it in a few hours (and who is driving me crazy because of how quickly he gets through books while I am still in the first few chapters appreciating the writer's style, huff!). Finally, I gave the book a try and what do you know, I loved it!
Even though the idea of unwinding (splitting apart alive teens into parts that are just as alive as they were pre-unwinding) was depressingly sordid, the author really executed that idea well. The law was created to "protect" children and gave parents the right to decide whether their child was fit for society. Unfortunately that liberty also came with societal pressure (the expectations from fellow parents and peers to discipline their misbehaving kid).
The book is written from multiple perspectives, but mostly from three - Connor, Risa, and Lev. Some chapters come from very innovative perspectives that I found pretty clever. For instance, there is a chapter describing the reactions of a mob from its own perspective, another one from the perspective of a kid being unwound, etc. One of the major strengths of this book is its execution. Although occasionally, I felt the plot go weak or uninteresting, I was still hooked thanks to the way the author has organized the book.
To me, the most significant impression left by the book is in one of its chapters towards the latter half of the book, where one character gets unwound. Believe me when I say that chapter will really leave you gasping. Even despite being fed with tantalizing hints about the unwinding process, the real deal is still terribly poignant. Up until that chapter, I had been reading the book quick enough. At the end of that chapter, I couldn't really focus on anything. The husband also agreed that that chapter was very moving and powerful.
This is yet another book recommended by my brother that I loved. If the chap read more books more often, I would have replaced my recommendation engines with him - would have been more convenient. This is my first brush with Shusterman's work and I quite liked it. I doubt I will be sampling more of his books, but I probably will be looking forward to the sequel to Unwind.
I borrowed this book from the good old library.