Unwind by Neal Shusterman


Goodreads blurb

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.

First line: “There are places you can go”, Ariana tells him, “and a guy as smart as you has a descent chance of surviving to eighteen”. 

Title: Unwind
Series: The first book in Unwind Dystology
Author: Neal Shusterman
My edition: An E-book edition in Norwegian from Cappelen Damm. Translated by Morten Hansen.
Age: 14+
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Teen, Adventure, Thriller, Survival.

I read about it on goodreads while scrolling around, and added it to my TBR. Then when I needed a new e-book to have on my phone, I actually checked my TBR-list for once before deciding. This was available, so I went with it! Also, I’m a sucker for dystopia’s and this one seemed interesting.

I have kind of struggled with rating the plot of this book, because I’ve been going so much back and forth with it myself. So I’m going to tell you how I experienced this:

My very first reaction to this plot was that it felt too unrealistic. Let fiction be fiction, you say – and you may have a point. But when we’re talking dystopia I have to feel a certain kind of realism to it. Not in a way that makes me think it’s realistic we’ll end up there – but still realistic enough for me to think that somehow, if we really fucked up big time, it is a possibillity we did. I have to be able to imagine it. When I started reading this book, I couldn’t. How can a whole nation stand by as millions of kids are being split into pieces and not call it killing them? How can a mother and a father let their child be unwound and just like that accept that they’ll never see their kid again? And still not call it murder? In this world, it’s completely normal. And it took me a while to accept that.

But I thought that if I can accept children being sent to death arenas for entertainment and still call it one of my favorite dystopian trilogy, I should be willing to give this one a chance. And so I did.

There are two things that gives the plot of this book extra points for me:

First of all, it’s the actual story. The story follows the three main characters Connor, Risa and Lev – all of them destined to be unwound for different reasons. And both them and what they go through in this book is actually pretty exciting to read about. This plot is smart, and reasonable and I indeed had times where I read one more chapter before going to bed. I am even tempted to read the second one because of the smart plot.

The second reason for extra points is the fact that this book has many interesting topics I think would be very good for young adults to read about. The book reflects upon abortion and what a human life is worth and it is discussed inn a good way between the characters in the books so that several aspects of the topic is enlightened. If I were teaching a high school class, I’d be tempted to have them read this just because of that. Extra points indeed.

Then we have one major thing is this book that annoys me and made me withdraw some points. And yet again,  going to have to talk about plot realism.

As I mentioned, I decided to go with it and accept that this story takes place in a world where children are unfounded and that so many people are completely okay with it. That’s fine. I accept. BUT. The fact that Shusterman have included body parts that still acts as if they were part of the person it was attached to. I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. Those parts of the book was just goofy for me and it crosses my realistic-line so much I can’t even try to accept it. There’s this one chapter at the ending that just made me roll my eyes. Because an arm is an arm, people. An arm, or a lung, or whatever, is an arm or a lung or whatever. It is not some vital part of you with a soul of its own, longing to reunite with its original owner or whatever. It and arm people!

So – points for good storytelling, points for important a topic, but that last part is a let down and I wished Shusterman could just have let that whole thing go. Seriously.


The writing is very simple, which I struggled with at first. It seemed too simple, and childish. But after I got into the book, I found it okay. It’s easy to read and makes it possible to read like 50-100 pages at the time. I also have to consider the fact that this book is meant for a younger age group than mine, and therefore I think the writing is good considering the age group.


The characters are maybe what I liked the most about the whole book. All the three main characters are well written, well described and take actions fit to who they are.

Connor often ends up in fights at school, and his parents find him too difficult to control. When he finds out about it he decides to run away from home and try to survive until he’s 18 and no longer can be unwound. Connor is impulsive, but throughout the book he gets better to control his behaviour and think through things before he jumps into action.

Risa lives in an orphanage and like so many others, is one of those who has to be “sacrificed” because of the lack of space. There’s simply too many children and to little room. Risa is a little hostile and has been through a tough childhood living with other orphaned children. It takes time for her to trust other people, and she is smart – thinking through her every move before doing things.

Lev is a tithe – a child conceived and raised to be unwound. His whole life he’s known he was going to be unwound and has learned what a true honor it is and how he is doing God’s work. Coincidences drags him into Connor and Risa’s attempted escape, and because of this he experiences the world and sides of it he’s never seen before. He’s probably the character who’s been the most interesting to follow.



As I mentioned, I’ve been struggling with the realism of this book. Although it’s fiction there are certain things that has to be believeable – and this book stretches that to my limit. There are things here I can accept, and things that just become too far-fetched for my own taste. That being said, it’s a good story with three very good main characters – and because of that I’m giving this book a fair score.


16.12.2016 – marked as to-read

21.12.2016 – marked as currently reading

23.12.2016 – 4% “This could have been a really epic moment, but is is not when you spend two sentences on something that should have been a page…”
23.12.2016 – 7% “I have a feeling this book is just not as good as I hoped. I don’t know… the plot seemed cool but the writing feels childish (or bad???)…

29.12.2016 – 12% “How the mc’s meet is kind of cool!”

30.12.2016 – 13% “But this writing…”

01.01.2017 – 15% “Yes because 15 minutes tied to a tree is all it takes”
01.01.2017 – 16% “And I still cannot see how this world makes sense…”

04.01.2017 – 29% “Yeah because that’s not suspicious at all!”

05.01.2017 – 32% “Nice socks”
05.01.2017 – 35% “Okay I do love that suitcase”
05.01.2017 – 72% “This book is growing on me”

13.01.2017 – 79% “Ooooh shit Roland”
13.01.2017 – 86% “Lev noo”

15.01.2017 – 95% “Ooooh”
15.01.2017 – 99% “Okay that is bullshit”
15.01.2017 – Marked as read


I think if I’d seen this about 8 years ago, I would have. Now I wouldn’t.


I think this is a good read for young adults about 14 years old. Maybe a little less. I think this book could be important considering the big Abortion Topic going throughout the whole book, and it’s a good story – although I struggled with some parts of the plot.


“You can’t change laws without first changing human nature”
– Nurse Greta

You cant’ change human nature without first changing the law”
– Nurse Yvonne



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