UnSouled: Unwind Dystology, Book 3

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
UnSouled: Unwind Dystology, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Teens flee organ harvesters in action-packed installment.

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age 13+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


A few instances each of "a--hole," "bitch," "piss," "damn," and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the villains forces Connor to smoke a combination of tranquilizer and marijuana. Another character eats chocolate laced with marijuana.

What 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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byGG_3467 December 1, 2013

This book will grab your attention!

I really enjoyed this book. Children who are not fine with bad language, violence, or other things, should ask an adult before reading. When speaking of violenc... Continue reading

What's the story?

On the run from ProActive Citizenry, the Juvenile Authority, and vengeful parts pirates, Connor and Lev careen across the Southwest looking for a woman, nearly erased from history, who may hold the key to stopping \"unwinding\" forever. When Lev is critically injured, they and a new companion, the odd but talented Grace, must depend on the kindness of others to survive. Meanwhile, Cam, the boy made completely of harvested tissue, continues his pursuit of Risa, who betrayed him.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ethical issues surrounding organ transplants. Do medical advances that allow some patients to enjoy better health at the expense of less fortunate ones have unintended consequences?

  • Why do you think UnSouled contains clippings from actual news sites about organ transplants and biomedical research? What do those excerpts add to the story?

  • Why do you think older people are sometimes fearful of teenagers? Can you see a society becoming so afraid of its rebellious youth that it allows them to be used for organ transplants?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and frightening tales

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