UnWholly by Neal Shusterman
Series: Unwind Dystology #2
Also in this series: UnSouled
Published by Simon and Schuster on 8/28/12
Genres: Dystopian, Social Issues, Young Adult
It’s finally here. The long-awaited sequel to the bestselling Unwind, which Publishers Weekly called a “gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller.”
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.
Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.
As the summary says, this is a sequel to the 2007 book, Unwind. If you haven’t read Unwind, run now to your nearest bookstore and see what you’ve been missing. It was an amazing book that Neal Shusterman originally planned as a stand-alone. But, here we are, five years later, and he decided that there was more to the story that needed to be told. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!
What I love most about this series is the way that Shusterman tackles some very tough and controversial topics in a way that makes you stop and really examine all sides of the issue. The series explores a future in which the battle between pro-life extremists and pro-choice extremists has turned into a literal war. The final compromise that is made is outrageous and yet accepted by both sides – abortion is abolished, but parents may choose to “unwind” their children between the ages of 13 and 17 (the unwinding process is not considered death because all parts of the child are donated and kept alive in people who need them). When I initially starting reading the book, I was a bit afraid that I was going to be hit over the head with the author’s personal views on abortion. In fact, I was very happy with how balanced the discussions of the life/choice debate were – it is a central theme of the book, but there are no “right” answers given and the topic is explored from all sides. The only definitive truth presented is the absolute value of life once it has truly begun (the reader is left to decide when that is). It also presents the danger of extremism (on any side of an issue) and how that extremism can lead to people who no longer care so much about the very issue they are fighting for but instead are more driven by their hatred for the “other side.” This is a series that makes you think about the issues without giving pat answers. I appreciate that.
UnWholly continues with the themes that are explored in Unwind, but delves into them in a new way. In this book, we find that many people are starting to question the morality of unwinding. A revolution has begun and our main characters are part of that revolution, sometimes in ways that they wouldn’t choose. In the meantime, many people are fighting just as hard to keep unwinding legal – “for the good of the many.” The book poses questions about what atrocities many people will blindly accept just because society as a whole says it’s “for the best.” It makes you look at our own world and think about how our choices and beliefs are molded by society. Yet, the book isn’t a heavy read. Instead, it is an engaging page-turner that leaves a bold impression long after you’ve put the book down.
The main characters in this series are well-rounded – flawed, but with a strength that transcends their flaws. There were no cardboard cut-outs in this book, which I loved! The action was interesting, the pacing was excellent, and I was often left guessing about what might happen next. I highly recommend it! 5/5 Stars.