by Neal Shusterman
Released November 7, 2007
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Goodreads /Author Website /Amazon /Barnes & Noble
About (from Goodreads)
Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
Are you wondering why I chose to review a book that was published in 2007? This book is the first of a series; the second was just released last September. If you have never read a Neal Shusterman book then you are truly missing something special. This author has an incredible way of crafting characters that are interesting, complex and full of all the good and bad that make up each of us. His "bad" characters are never cardboard villains, but intricate characters with experiences and choices that have come to set them on their path. Sometimes they will redeem themselves in surprising ways. You might even find bits of yourself in them as they are really just people who might not have always made the best choices. The same goes for his "hero/heroine" characters. These characters are far from perfect and you never know when one of them will change roads and turn your opinions of them on its head.
This particular book is a dystopian, written before dystopians became all the rage. In any dystopian I have to suspend my disbelief that our world might really get to this extreme place. In this book, the author grounds his eerie version of the future through snippets in-between the chapters of things that are real and current. This accomplishes a chilling connection to how he developed this scary potential outcome.
The story is an interesting and sometimes disturbing read that follows primarily three teens- Connor, Risa and Lev. All three are scheduled to be Unwound, a process whereby each part of a human is taken and donated to another in need. Each of them have arrived at this point through very different means. As per typical Neal Shusterman fashion, each character we meet is fascinating and complex. We follow the characters as they attempt to outrun their fate, taking chances and learning a lot in the process. The story is gripping and tense. No one knows who to trust and when to run. People surprise you and others evolve- occasionally to places you never expected them to go.
I was a little apprehensive when I started this book, wondering if any particular political view was going to be preached. The author stays away from this, simply asking questions that beg the mind to think and question without giving answers. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum you should find this book acceptable and thought provoking. There are a lot of ethical issues, such as how laws dictate and affect our morality. Unthinkable things become acceptable if people can put a good spin on it and the population is kept in the dark about the reality of it. This becomes even easier if the act in question is a legal one and society as a whole is encouraged to accept it.
This book is a really well done and I loved it, even the parts that were hard to read. I encourage you to pick this up and begin this series.