Unwind by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Heartland War was the country's second civil war. It was fought over pro-life and pro-choice. When the war ended a new law was enacted. Abortion was illegal, but children between the ages of 13 and 18 could be unwound. Unwinding is a process where a child is surgically dismembered and by law every part of them must go to someone else. The theory being if every part of the child goes to different people life doesn't end. Three young people Connor, Risa, and Lev now face the process for different reasons. Connor has a habit of lashing out in words and actions so his parents signed him up for unwinding. Risa is a ward for the state and isn't considered special enough to continue living. Lev is a tithe, a child born and raised to be unwound. The three of them are running for their lives and hoping against hope to survive.
Unwind is one of those books where I wanted to jump into the book and fight almost everyone. I wanted to fight the parents who signed their kids away, the state counselors especially the one who said "my nephew was unwound there", all the lackadaisical juvey-cops, and every other person who looked away rather than helping the lawfully murdered children. If it wasn't for the kind people who care enough to do something throughout the book then I'm not sure I could have finished it.
So the three protagonists Connor, Risa, and Lev represented the three different type of children who were unwound. Connor's parents signed his life away, the foster care system vetoed Risa's life, and Lev was born to be unwound. All three types sickened me for different reasons. The notion a parent would choose to have their child dismembered seemed unfathomable. It surprised me that the threat of unwinding didn't lead to docile children who'd try to destroy the world once they reached 18. I imagine I'd be too scared to do anything wrong while unwinding was a possibility. Tithing a child shows religion at its worst. The parents and pastors even used the bible to justify tithing a child.
The foster care wards being sent for unwinding was different yet equally disturbing. Because of the drastic change in laws with unwinding an additional law was created, storking. Storking allows new parents to leave their child on someone's doorstep and if they aren't caught the family is legally obligated to take custody of the child. This in turn leads to the overloaded foster care system with limited funds. Which leads to teenage wards of the state often being sent for unwinding if they aren't deemed valuable enough to society.
The story is rife with concepts that are familiar. The pro-life pro-choice argument that leads to war is one that our world is facing today with little to no signs of ever ending. The juvey-cops and doctors felt every inch like the Gestapo hunting down Jewish people during the Holocaust.
Unwind made me want to scream and thrash to think about how people could just stand by and do nothing. Especially since people, me included more often than I'd care to admit, are unfortunately quite like this even today.
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