Sunday, April 27, 2008
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
The premise: the US has lived through another civil war, this time over abortion. Now abortion is illegal and all pregnancies must come to term, however, when a child is between the ages of 13 and 18 parents or guardians may decide to have the child "unwound." Unwinding is the process by which a person is dismembered but each of their separate parts is kept alive and distributed to the sick or the injured. The person is not really "dead" because each part of their body is alive, but they're not really alive, either. They are, as the book so chillingly puts it, "in a divided state."
Unwind is the story of three runaway teens: Collin's parents were having him unwound because they couldn't quite cope with their unruly teenager. Risa was to be unwound because the orphanage she lived at was facing budget cuts. And Lev has known he would be unwound all his life: he is a Tithe, a way for his ultra-religious parents to give 10% of everything they have in service to God.
A truly disturbing book, but one that will prompt discussion among readers.
I was sucked into this book pretty quickly and had some trouble tearing myself away from it, despite the fact that the grim future evoked was putting me in a terrible mood. The book gave me nightmares.
This story may be good for sci-fi fans, lovers of the distopian future, kids who want a look at a world where kids are even more misunderstood than they are now, and people on both sides of the "abortion debate" who want a terrifying story about where extremism can lead.