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Books I’ve Been Reading: Unwind

I absolutely HAVE to tell you about the book I’ve just finished reading, Unwind. I loved it so much that I actually wanted to blog about it WHILE I was reading it, but I thought I would wait til I’d finished it so I could do a ‘Books I’ve Been Reading’ post. So here it is!

Unwind is set in a sci-fi/dystopian world where unwanted teens are used for body parts. After what was known as the “Heartland War”, where the pro-life and pro-choice forces battled against each other, the “Bill of Life” was passed. That said that from conception to age 13, human life can’t be touched. But from ages 13-18, teens are eligible for unwinding: they are taken apart and their different body parts are used for transplants on other people. But the thing is, they are not technically dead after they’ve been unwound. Unwinding has become very popular in their world and parents who don’t want their teens go right ahead and sign the unwinding order.

The story follows three people who are set to be unwound for different reasons. There’s Connor, who is a troublemaker and sent to be unwound by his parents. There’s Risa, a ward of the state who’s being unwound because of her state home’s budget cuts. There’s Lev (or Levi), who is a tithe: someone who knows they’re going to be unwound and is doing it for a religious purpose, to give back to God and humanity. Tithes actually look forward to their unwinding, so they’re different to Unwinds in that respect.

Anyway, so the three of them end up running away and they have all sorts of adventures, whether they’re with each other or with someone else. If they can survive until they’re 18, they can no longer be unwound and they’re safe. This is from the blurb: ‘But when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away…’

This book was just brilliant! The first bit was a lot calmer, and it introduced all the characters, and we get to know them, we see their circumstances, etc. You think ‘wow, this can’t get any more exciting’ after they’ve all run away, but you are wrong. Their running away is only a fraction of the excitement this book has!

Things really start to pick up when they reach the Graveyard. I won’t tell you what that is in case you end up reading it. In the Graveyard, the story suddenly shifts up to a super fast pace, with tension, mystery and action. We meet some more characters and hear their stories. We also meet Roland (just before the Graveyard actually), who is Connor’s enemy in the book. Connor’s hatred of Roland is taken way too far when suspicious things happen at the Graveyard. I love the fact that we know who caused it, and you’re there going ‘NO, Connor, it wasn’t Roland!’ as Connor is advancing on him with a bit more than a friendly chat in his head. It’s just so tense!!!

The real awesomeness of the book comes in at the last bit. We are greeted with a description of an unwinding, which is chilling and creepy. I was trying to get my head round the fact that you’re not actually dead once you’ve been unwound. Yes, they never actually kill you, your heart never actually stops, but you are in pieces. Which part of you can you call yourself?

The last bit isn’t just full of questions, it’s full of action. It’s interesting to see the different turns Connor, Risa and Lev have taken and how they’ve grown, and how they feel about each other. There’s a lot of tension as the book drives towards the climax. I didn’t think it was possible for anything to be even nearly as tense as Argo, but I think this book came close. The short chapters added to that as well.

The book is told from the perspective of many different characters. It’s not switching from first person to first person, however. It just focuses on a different character, but still in third person. I like to think of it as the character doing their thing, and a person following them reporting on their actions. But every chapter, the reporter goes to someone else.

The writing style is unique and it draws you in. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s sort of enchanting and sucks you deep into the book. It’s like a spell-binding, dream-like sort of style that suits the book well. You’ll have to read it to get what I mean. But the writing style meant I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the book, I just had to keep reading. Trust me, you will be up very late when you read Unwind.

After I’d finished, I was just lying in bed thinking about it. The book posed a lot of questions. It was full of action, but it was also reflective in a weird sort of way. It was thought-provoking and left my head filled with questions and debates. It’s quite a current sort of topic, and if you’re interested in philosophy/ethics, this is the book for you. It asks you: when can a human be called a human– after conception or when they’re born? How can you be alive when you’re in pieces? Could you still call those parts ‘you’ once they’ve been put onto other people? Where exactly is your soul/consciousness (whichever you believe in) when you’re in a ‘divided state’? If you’re interested in future technology, science and dystopia, you should read this book. I was astounded (and scared) at how this world could be ours one day. It doesn’t specify a year, but the whole place seemed scarily close to our world. We already have transplants, donor organs, prosthetics. Unwinding is just one step ahead of that. Would our world actually be unethical enough to condone, or even practice, Unwinding? The answer, I think, would be yes. If you don’t believe in abortion, and your child is unwanted, I don’t think the parents would be too cut up about unwinding them. (sorry about the pun, it sucked) If you want a fast-paced, thrilling action story, then read this book! In short, this is a book for anyone and everyone, so you MUST read it. I think this would be a really good discussion or debate for an RS lesson, after the people in the class had read at least some of the book. Don’t you think so? I even considered recommending it to my RS teacher.

I give Unwind… 10/10! And I pose a mission to you: READ IT. And after you’ve read it, tell everyone about it! This book should be read by everyone. And it would make a great movie.

Your not yet unwound blogger, Jaz

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