leedock’s CBR-III Review #42-“Unwind” – Neal Shusterman

What if pro-life and pro-choice fought an actual civil war. Care to guess what the treaty at the end of that would look like?

Unable to duke it out on the battlefield to a clear winner, both sides sign a treaty. Life begins at conception and is protected until age 13. If a child between the ages of 13-18 is considered problematic  they can be “unwound”. The child is dissected and given to donors so that, technically, life continues. Chew on that for a minute.

Shusterman’s little love note to reproductive rights follows three possible outcomes of such a tragic resolution. Connor is the bad boy, the one always in some kind of trouble. Risa is a ward of the state whose only means of escaping is demonstrating extraordinary talent as a pianist. Lev is a tithe, conceived and raised alongside his brothers and sisters for the sole purpose of being sacrificed. An unlikely group thrust together on the run from the Harvest Camp.

Dystopian fiction is at its most fascinating and most successful when it can really attack the world it has created from all angles. Whether it be zombie apocalypse or a world with dwindling resources struggling to survive, the exploration of all the crazy shit human beings would do under those circumstances is what’s worth the read. How all of our own baggage comes into play in a crisis.

I don’t know how I managed to miss this author or why he doesn’t seem to get the same hype of some of his less talented counterparts. Solid writing. Compelling world. Thoughtful  plot. One of the final chapters in the book is one of the most frightening and soul wrenching and well crafted pieces of writing I have ever had the pleasure to read.  Read it.

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