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.The premise of this book was what drew me in, and I couldn't set this down! After the Heartland War (between pro-life and pro-choice advocates), unwinding has become a common-day occurrence. In fact, it was agreed upon by both parties, and became a peace-treaty of sorts. What is unwinding? Well, after conception a child has to be raised to age 13, but at that point they can be unwound...meaning all their body parts are harvested for transplant. At first I thought, "neither side would agree to that!", but Shusterman makes it believable. He sets this up by explaining that pro-life activists were murdering doctors who performed abortions, and women were selling their fetuses to science for money.
The three main characters have all be chosen for unwinding, although each has different circumstances leading up to it. After they escape their fate, they are forced to deal with various different obstacles, including dealing with feelings of betrayal, guilt, and confusion. In the end, they all have to make major decisions which could start the investigation into what unwinding really is. I felt for these characters, I was frustrated, upset, and I detested the act of being unwound.
The book, for me at least, was less about the characters, and more about the big picture. It leaves the reader wondering about what happens to a person's personality, and what would happen to a soul during the process of unwinding. In fact, there's a section of the book which graphically describes what a person actually goes through during unwinding, and it isn't pretty. In fact, it actually disgusted me, which rarely happens to me in books. It was definitely an interesting read, and I was actually satisfied with the ending. I'll definitely be reading more from Shusterman.
By Neal Shusterman
Published by Simon & Schuster Childrens Publishing
352 Pages (Hardcover edition)