UnWholly: Unwind Dystology, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
UnWholly: Unwind Dystology, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Middle volume of organ transplant trilogy extends suspense.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Although a science fiction adventure tale, UnWholly raises questions about the ethics of human organ transplantation and how a society might choose to demonize its teenage population.

Positive Messages

UnWholly supports the notion that all human beings are unique individuals deserving respect and care. By depicting a society where teenagers are seen as scapegoats and ready sources for transplantable organs, the novel emphasizes the inherent worth of the individual.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The three main characters in UnWholly work for the protection of other, weaker teens -- even at great personal risk. Connor is the most obvious leader, constantly in charge the Graveyard and its young inhabitants. In dealing with the mysterious Cam, Risa must put her own feelings aside and prevent the massacre of her friends. And Lev bravely tries to help a character who would just as soon not have his assistance.


There's a fair amount of violence in UnWholly, most notably an armed assault on a camp full of teens, a game of Russian Roulette, a brutal beating, and a couple of fatal shootings. A plane crash results in a significant number of casualties. The main conflict involves the involuntary harvesting of organs and tissue from teen donors, but that process is never described in any detail.


There's little sexual content in UnWholly. Two main characters, Connor and Risa, clearly love each other, but they do not have a physical relationship. Another male character, Cam, is also attracted to Risa and they share a couple of kisses. 


A few instances of "hell" or "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that UnWholly is the second book in the Unwind trilogy and continues the saga of a group of brave teens trying to survive in a society that wants use them for spare body parts. There's some violence, including an armed attack on a camp full of teens, a couple of fatal shootings, a brutal beating, and a plane crash with multiple casualties. The violence is not depicted with graphic detail, and the processing of harvesting organs for transplantation is not described at all. There's very little swearing ("hell," "damn") and just a couple of kisses.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byIzzyFizz August 22, 2015


I read Unwind as a LA project in 7th grade and loved it. I quickly learned that there were sequels, so I checked them out and read them all in a single weekend.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byA_Little_Bit_Darker March 25, 2015

It IS a sequel


First of all, yo... Continue reading

What's the story?

UNWHOLLY takes place in the aftermath of the revolt at the Happy Jack Harvest Camp and follows the further exploits of three of its chief instigators, Connor, Risa, and Lev, introduced in Unwind. Connor is in charge of running the Graveyard, safe haven for teenagers in danger of being "unwound" -- involuntarily having their organs and tissues transplanted in someone else. When Risa, confined to a wheelchair, tries to get medical treatment for an injured Graveyard resident, she suddenly finds herself a pawn in a deadly game with Cam, the first individual created entirely from unwound tissue. Meanwhile, Lev becomes involved with the underground movement to rescue "tithes," those who seek unwinding voluntarily.

Is it any good?

This series takes a far-fetched premise -- that parents would voluntarily authorize their children to be taken away as unwilling organ donors -- and makes it work well enough for a second outing. Author Neal Shusterman keeps the tension cranked high and expertly choreographs a number of complicated action sequences. He also provides some intriguing food for thought with the subplot revolving around Cam, the modern-day Frankenstein's monster, made entirely from the flesh of others. As the middle book of a trilogy, UnWholly feels a little static, but Shusterman provides sufficient new wrinkles to keep the plot interesting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about organ transplanting as a sci-fi premise. Why do you think authors and readers are intrigued by stories about creating creatures with parts of other humans? Can you think of other books that have explored this theme? 

  • Why do some societies seem to blame teenagers and young adults for civil unrest? Do you think young people are ever used as scapegoats?

  • If you read the first book in the series, Unwind, how do you think UnWholly compares? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and dystopian novels

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