Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Series: Unwind Dystology #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 13, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Length: 10 hours 9 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called "unwinding." Unwinding ensures that the child's life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child's body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.
With breathtaking suspense, this book follows three teens who all become runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents’ tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing. As their paths intersect and lives hang in the balance, Shusterman examines complex moral issues that will keep readers turning the pages until the very end.
I have considered the Unwind series, after becoming a fan of his Art of the Sycthe series. So I was thrilled to see a new release of the first book on audio available for review. Plus the narrator is the outstanding Luke Daniels. A friend had mentioned this was a tear-jerker so I was a little afraid.
The style is very much what I expect from this author. There are great characters who develop in a dystopian environment where there are issues of morality. Those considered the good guys aren’t always good; the bad guys aren’t always bad. Sometimes a great idea over time really goes rotten.
Those who are selected for unwinding are those rejected as not good or special enough to continue their life or the tithes who are like grass-fed beef, treated well but raised to harvest. Unwinding was a result of the war between pro-choice and pro-life. The concept is horrific to me. I was rooting for these unwinds from start to finish.
For them, they are fighting for their lives. It is an emotional journey as well as one of fighting and running to keep existing. Young as they are, their dire circumstances provide them the opportunity to really assess their life choices. What is the value of a life? What is the essence of a soul? Why does anyone have control over their life but themselves?
Luke Daniels is one of my favorite narrators. He provides distinct, realistic voices which make an excellent listen. I listened to this at my normal 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Well, I did something stupid. I let a book I would die to read get beyond me. Fantastic review, Anne? Now I’ve got to wait on my library as this is a cautionary story that feels more possible these days than I would have previously thought.
It’s a great story although emotional and thought-provoking. I actually own this, an earlier publishing by Brilliance Audio in 2009. I hadn’t read it yet though. I don’t think we have all the science to make the argument for “unwinding” and I don’t think it was ever a great idea.
I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet, in fact, I might have a copy somewhere. Thanks for reminding me. Even though the subject matter is tough, I still want to read it.
It’s an excellent read. Shusterman books seem to always have a dystopian setup with some “moral rules” which to me don’t seem like they were ever a great idea. Well it made more sense in Art of the Scythe but the “unwinding” would never have been acceptable to me.
This is the first book I read by him and I really liked how different it was from everything else I was reading at the time. Still one of my favorite completed YA series EVER.
Roland’s chapter was one of the most heartbreaking I’ve ever read.
Yes it was heart-breaking at times but a really excellent read/listen.
Wow. What a horrific way to resolve conflict. The kids aren’t even allowed to find themselves before they can be unwound. This one really has me curious as to where the author will take it. Even more curious after seeing your rating!
Yes it’s like the pro-life folks now, everything to protect the unborn. But once they are born, in this case between 13-18, they can just be sent to “unwind” which means their parts are all taken to transplant to others. It’s a horrible concept. I found the book thought-provoking and I loved the characters.
Luke Daniels is my favorite male narrator. His work on the Iron Druid (Kevin Herne) books was fantastic. Only he could come up with a voice for an Irish Wolfhound and make one go ‘Yup, that’s an Irish Wolfhound!”
He’s outstanding here also.
Oh my goodness! What a horrific concept. Great review, Anne – and this is one I’m putting on my growing list of books I want to tackle once 2020 and all its issues are retreating in the rear view mirror and I’m feeling more like facing the emotional roller-coaster that would accompany this read.
It was horrific but the action and the great characters kept me going in the story. The morality and soul-searching questions were part of it though.
I have been hearing many positive things about this one. And *gasp* look at who the narrator is, that alone will get me to listen LOL
Glad to see you enjoyed this one.
Luke Daniels is extraordinary.
Okay, I might have to give this one a try since you liked it as much as you did. Plus, Luke Daniels!
Luke Daniels got me started but I liked this author’s work in his newer series also.
This sounds so good! I still need to finish the last book in the Arc of a Scythe series but I’m definitely interested in reading more Shusterman books after I finish that one.
They are dystopian worlds (and what robots set up their horrific rules?) so while the world may not feel too realistic, the human emotions and moral questions feel authentic.
My husband read this a while back and from what he described I knew this wouldn’t work for me. I do love Luke Daniels’ narration so how nice that he’s the performer!
It’s not a simple read if you engage your mind and heart when reading as I tend to do.