Creepy Thriller Disposes of Unwanted Teens in Neal Shusterman’s Unwind

The pro-life and pro-choice factions raise their own armies and go to war, creating the United States Second Civil War.  As part of their peace deal, both sides agree to abolish abortion and instead parents can have their 13-18 year olds unwound.  Unwinding is a process where teens surgically dismembered and are used for their body parts. Because each body part is used, the teens are not considered dead, but in a “divided state.”  This is a world where doctors no longer exists, only surgeons.  If you have poor eyesight, you don’t get glasses, new eyes.  Have a bad knee joint?  Get a new one from one of the unwound teens.  Have asthma?  Get a new lung? 

Terrorists are called clappers, because they inject radioactive materials into their blood stream and a simple clap turns their bodies into suicide bombs.

This is such a creepy and well told story.  You will feel emotions when you read this book.  Moments will make you so angry and so sad. 

The story follows three teens who are to be unwound.   The first is Conor. His parents have had enough of  his fighting, bad attitude and poor grades.  Even though he tries to redeem himself, his parents still sign the order.

Risa is a ward of the state.  She is a talented pianist, but her funding was cut and the state decides it does not want to feed and clothe her anymore.

Lev is the most disturbing yet, he is a tithe.  As part of their religion, his parents had him specifically to donate him as an unwind.  He goes through many changes in this book.  He was not supposed to keep existing.  He must figure out who he is.

The three teens must follow and underground railroad of sorts to keep them save until their 18th birthdays.

I discussed this with several junior high age boys.  They loved this book.  It was being passed around their middle school and all their friends were excited about such a great story.

Here are some ideas when discussing this:

1.  Could something like this happen?  Do they understand how policies are made in government?

2.  Which character do they relate to the most?

3.  If each body part is used should they be considered dead or alive?

4.  Do they think the Admiral redeemed himself in the end?

The ending is brilliant and ironic.  This is truly an original, thought provoking, emotional read.


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