UnSouled by Neal Shusterman (Unwind #3)
Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever.
Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human.
With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively; and everyone will be changed.
This is a series that restores my faith in the dystopian genre. Shusterman's terrifying vision of the future accomplishes exactly what a dystopia should: unsettling its readers and making them think. Each of the books in the Unwind Dystology have been poignant and engrossing, and UnSouled is no exception. Darkly witty humor, a suspenseful plot, and disturbing "ads" throughout the book made it a book I couldn't put down.
The same complex, realistic characters from the first two books are present and accounted for in UnSouled, while a few new characters are added into the mix. Risa doesn't make a lot of appearances - a lot of the attention is on Cam - which was kind of disappointing, but not major.
The only reason I didn't rate UnSouled five stars is that it's obviously a filler. Although the plot is just as compelling as always, the constant suspense and new discoveries had me expecting something bigger in this book. Instead, it feels like it's just stringing us along until the next book. As a whole, this series is one of my favorites, but UnSouled is definitely not the best book in it. However, I have every faith that Shusterman will bring back the nail-biting tension from the first books for the series' conclusion - and if he does, it'll be a knockout.
UnWholly by Neil Shusterman (Unwind #2)
Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.
Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.
Most sequels to great books contract Second Book Syndrome. They lack the depth and character of the first books, aren’t plotted as well, or aren’t really needed. Needless to say, I was a little worried that UnWholly wouldn’t live up to its predecessor. But my doubt was squashed as soon as I started reading.
If anything, UnWholly is even more thought-provoking and developed than Unwind. Whereas Unwindtackled the idea of death, UnWholly tackles the idea of life. While Conor, Lev, and Risa are running for their lives from the Juvey cops and harvest camps, you have to ask if unwinding is really death or just a ‘divided state’ and if unwinding is ethical or not. In the continuation of their story, those questions are still relevant, but you also have to ask if Cam is even alive, if he has a soul, if he’s a new person or not.
Just as rife with philosophy, plot twists, and incredible writing as ever, UnWholly makes a fantastic addition to the Unwind trilogy.
Unwind by Neil Shusterman (Unwind #1)
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not important enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
On the surface, Unwind is a fast-paced adventure story, kids running for their lives. And when you stop to think about why they’re running for their lives, it throws you for a loop. When I first read Unwind, I didn’t want to believe that such a world could exist, but either because Shusterman thought of every detail in creating this world, or because it was so believable, I felt like I was living in that world. The ideas behind the book are also big issues in society today.
Shusterman’s characters live and breathe right next to you, pulling you into their wild escape. You will bite your nails in suspense and your breath will catch at every turn with Unwind. I highly recommend it; this is probably my favorite dystopian series.
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