In a dystopian near future, teenagers Connor and Risa are sentenced to be unwound. When their paths cross with a tithe named Lev, they flee the world they know and become fugitives. But how long can they run before the past catches up with them...?
Imagine a world where abortion is illegal but it's perfectly acceptable to have disagreeable children unwound, that is, disassembled and their organs given to waiting recipients, when they are between the ages of 13 and 18? That's the basic premise behind Unwound and it's not as farfetched as I want it to be. Is forced organ donation really that far outside of what happens today?
Unwind is a fast-paced YA novel dealing with the ethics of what happens to unwanted children and the consequences. Shusterman introduce such concepts as unwinding, storking (abandoning unwanted children on doorsteps), and tithing (people raised specifically to be unwound.) Chilling, yes?
The characters drive the story forward at a cheetah's pace. Connor, the lead, gets most of the time, as does Roland, his bullying nemesis. Lev and Risa, while important, don't shine as much as the approaching conflict between Connor and Roland. While I thought I knew how things would turn out, there were quite a few unexpected wrinkles along the way, like CyFy, the Graveyard, the Admiral, and the Clappers.
I don't really want to get into specifics for fear of revealing to much of what happens. Suffice to say, I found Shusterman's writing very suited to the tale he was telling and the worldbuilding was superb. Much like The Handmaid's Tale, the world seemed alien at first glance but really isn't that far removed from our own, making it all the more chilling. It's a five star read, the only complaint I can think of is that I wanted it to be longer.