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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

Unwholly (Unwind #2) by Neal Shusterman

The sad truth about humanity, Risa was quick to realize, is that people believe what they're told. Maybe not the first time, but by the hundredth time, the craziest of ideas just becomes a given.

Unwholly starts about a year after Unwind. We have our same three protagonists from Unwind, tasking themselves with some crucial responsibilities this time, in their continuing fight against the practice of unwinding (whereby parents opt to donate their child's body parts - alive, so that other people can benefit from them). Connor is in charge of a salvaged aircraft yard where hundreds of teenagers are kept safe from the juvenile authority. Risa, crippled in an accident at the end of Unwind  takes care of medical matters, while Lev is on probation and is being monitored 24x7 by the authorities.

In addition to the three, we have three new interesting characters. Starkey is a stork (his biological mother abandoned him at someone's doorstep who would become his foster parents) who is about to be unwound but is rescued by Connor and a few others on a rescue mission. Starkey is also not used to yielding to authority and happens to be one hell of a manipulative character. Miracolina is a tithe (a sacrifice to God via unwinding and tithes love being tithes) who has just been rescued, except she didn't want to be rescued and causes much trouble to her rescuers and to Lev. And then there's Cam, the guy on the cover, the most astounding consequence of unwinding.

I'm deliberately leaving a lot out from the plot because 1. Cam's story is a lovely surprise that's best left out and 2. this is a sequel so I don't want to spoil anything. I read Unwind a few months back and found out about Unwholly just a few weeks back. Unwind was a absolutely wonderful and thrilling read so I was hoping to get more of that from Unwholly. This second book of a trilogy wasn't as excitingly paced as its prequel but it still packed plenty of twists and turns.

I liked the addition of the three new characters - Starkey and Miracolina were infuriating enough in different ways. Starkey was a complete douche - he was the perfect example of how a rift can form in a group whose members start with the same goal. Even with everyone at the yard having the same goal of staying alive until seventeen (the age beyond which one cannot be unwound) and fighting in their own harmless way against unwinding, Starkey manages to create a stork club and show how the storks need preferential treatment and be above everyone else. So much like real world - where peace is the first goal and then each sect wants its own state/country/special rules. Cam was the character I expected to hate, but funnily he had one of the most humane personalities in the book. His story raises the same questions that a lot of our medical technologies raise, on the ground of ethics but his is a story that succeeded against these opponents and while there are still plenty of naysayers, there is more acceptance.

There was one thing that I especially liked in this book - Unwholly expresses well how something that is taken for granted today could have been an alien concept at some point in the past. The very idea of unwinding was one such and to kids like Connor, they grew up in a world that accepted unwinding, so any other world was impossible to fathom. The author demonstrated how the public can be swayed easily to accept something they've been revolting against, and how time can change the perception of a lot of things.

Unfortunately, this book suffered from a lackluster writing. The captivating writing style from Unwind was nowhere to be seen here. If the plot wasn't intriguing enough, I may not have bothered with reading this book. Despite the poor writing, this is a trilogy that I would happily recommend to anyone. I don't usually enjoy YA books, primarily because I've read very few of them whose plot rings sensible to me. Since I like my books on the side of reality even in a dystopian world, this trilogy seems to be really working for me.

I borrowed this book from the good old library.


Veens said…
I am adding Unwind to my wishlist! I am sure the 3rd book would be better :) Great review.
Helen Murdoch said…
I think Unwholly takes the topic to a whole new level. Some of the stuff is eerily possible the way science is going. And, I want science/medicine to improve, expand, etc. But the possibilities are creepy. And I agree, Cam's storyline is intriguing
Athira / Aths said…
I hope the 3rd one is great too. The ending is pretty open-ended.
Athira / Aths said…
I liked how a lot of the concepts in this book are very timely and relevant today. He may be talking of a very futuristic technology that hopefully will never come to pass but I thought the way he handled the discovery followed by the misuse of technology mirrored well what happens today in our world too.
christa @ mental foodie said…
I felt similarly about this book... here's my review
Athira / Aths said…
I'm off to read your review!
Swati Hegde said…
Unwind was good, but UnWholly was just so much better! I loved the fact that Shusterman introduced new characters instead of confining the story to the point of view of the old ones.
Here's the full review on my blog! :)