Friday, January 4, 2013


by Neal Shusterman
Simon & Schuster | 2007
Buy it here.

There was a second U.S. civil war--called the Heartland War--and for years now, the new rules about life have been established. There's no more option for abortion. Instead, unwanted children can be "storked," or left on the doorstep of any random house. Those who discover the baby must raise it as their own--it's illegal not to. And anyone who decides they don't want a child who has proved difficult? Anytime between the ages of 13 and 18, a child can be "unwound." That is--separated into pieces with each part given to those in medical need of replacement parts. An eye here, a hand there, a lung transplant or heart replacement over there. But each and every part of the unwound must be used, for after all, the child isn't dying--they will live on, but in a disassociated state.

Yup. You read all that right. That's the premise of the world in which Connor, Risa, and Lev live. They accidentally end up as three runaway unwinds bound together by circumstance. Each has come to their planned-to-be-unwound state in different ways, but each have similar questions about their lives, what they mean, and how the society in which they live functions.

Whether the reader is pro-choice, pro-life, or has yet to develop an opinion, the questions in this book are interesting. While Shusterman never uses the term "abortion," this book directly asks the reader to consider the existence of the soul, when life begins, and whether life can continue in alternate ways.

(Note: I've not read the sequel, published this past August, but plan to. It involves a teen made up wholly of parts of unwinds, and somehow involves Connor, Risa, and Lev, who are all likeable characters. It's called Unwholly. I'll report back.)

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