A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
UnSouled provokes thoughtful questions about cultural behavior -- in particular, what would drive a society to so demonize its teen population that parents would willingly surrender their children to organ harvesters. The stated motivation for "unwinding" may not seem realistic, but it isn't completely farfetched, either, and the premise invites real-world comparisons.
Set in a world in which teens and criminals are "unwound" for their organs, UnSouled emphasizes the basic worth of every individual: No one deserves to be broken down and used for someone else's benefit; everyone has unique talents that shouldn't be stolen.
Positive Role Models
All the main characters behave consistently with their own moral codes. The three primary series protagonists -- Connor, Lev, and Risa, each with complex history and motives -- continue their fight against ProActive Citizenry, the Juvenile Authority, the parts pirates, and others who prey upon teens to harvest their organs. The antagonists -- primarily Cam, completely made from the tissues of others, and Starkey, the renegade leader of the "Stork Brigade" -- also have clear motivations for acting as they do.
Violence & Scariness
UnSouled's violent episodes include knifings, shootings, lynching, and impalement with a farm tool. The characters are in almost constant physical danger. However, description of the mayhem is usually not graphic.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Although rarely front-and-center, sex plays a small part in UnSouled. Composite human being Cam has amorous groupies, but his activities with them are implied rather than dramatized. Starkey, one of the villains, has impregnated three of his followers so his legacy will live on. Cam, Connor, and Risa form a romantic triangle, with lots of flirting and displays of aggression tinged with jealousy.
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A few instances each of "a--hole," "bitch," "piss," "damn," and "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the villains forces Connor to smoke a combination of tranquilizer and marijuana. Another character eats chocolate laced with marijuana.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that UnSouled is the third volume, but not the conclusion, of the ongoing Unwind "dystology." Set in a world where "harvesting" the organs of rebellious teenagers is normal, it raises compelling questions about medical ethics and free will. Violent episodes include beatings, stabbings, gunshots, lynching, and impalement with a farm tool. There's mild profanity and vulgar language -- occasional "a--hole," "damn," "hell," "bitch," "piss," and "crap." An implicit sexual subtext avoids explicit detail: One character has amorous groupies; another impregnates three of his followers. Drug use is minimal and not always voluntary; one character is forced to smoke a mixture of cannabis and tranquilizer, and another ingests chocolate suffused with pot.
Is It Any Good?
If you're looking for a conclusion to the Unwind "trilogy," you won't find it in UNSOULED. But as an action-filled ride through a complex sci-fi setting, this installment probably won't disappoint you. Author Neal Shusterman keeps the suspense cranked high, and the characters in his twisty plots have more depth than many of their science-fiction counterparts. Good guys and villains alike have multiple and sometimes conflicting motivations. The character development adds a sense of realism to the somewhat unlikely science-fiction scenario. The ending leaves readers ready for a rousing series conclusion, whenever it might arrive.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.