Does “Unwind” Predict a Possible Future?

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Picture this: you come home from your school and your parents yell “Hey! You are being sold off to have your body parts removed and given to people who need it more!” Would you:

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If you picked option A, you are most likely a tithe. If you picked option B, you are most likely a regular child who does not want to have their organs harvested. 

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a novel set in a future United States about a society in which children are regularly taken out of the custody of their parents, and thrown into a facility where they then have their body parts “unwound”. It is a take on a dystopian society where abortion is banned  — paving the way for a new option to get rid of unwanted children. The threat of being unwound by a parent looms large over the children in Unwind. The only saving grace for these undesirables is to wait until the age of eighteen; when they cannot be legally unwound without consent. Children of this society are not fond of unwinding. The only exceptions are tithes. Tithes are usually apart of wealthy families who are part of the church. A tithe is a one-tenth tax on produce and income, and it is given to support the church. In addition to money, families are expected to sacrifice their tenth child to the church. Tithes are hailed as angels who must be given up so they can be with God. For the most part tithes graciously accept this, and see it as their life’s purpose. 

“Unwind” by Neal Shusterman

The book follows three main characters — Connor, Risa and Levi. Connor and Risa are regular kids on the run from being unwound. Levi is a tithe to the church his family attends. Before he meets Connor and Risa his whole world revolves around him being the good boy and the ‘special’ child,  there to honor his family in the name of God. Connor is a troubled teenager whose fed up parents sign him off to the government to be unwound. Lastly Risa is a ward of the state, an orphaned teenager sent to be unwound because there is not enough room for her. The book switches from each child’s perspective. We get to see the world through their eyes. We see how they are treated by their guardians, their perspective on the world around them and their thoughts on unwinding. The reader experiences everything the main characters experience. I was on the edge of my seat while reading the whole book. So many life-changing events happen to Connor, Risa and Levi that it was impossible to not scream when  they screamed, to not cry when they cried, or to not fear when they feared. 

This book is a must read for those with an interest in  dystopian civilizations with corrupt governments and challenging societal standards. It is an easy and engaging read. The book is brimming with descriptive words and lively characters. All I can say is good luck trying to put it down once you have picked it up!