Unwind: Unwind Dystology, Book 1
By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Shocking sci-fi gives teens plenty to get wound up about.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This book will give teens a lot to discuss, including big questions about the soul and consciousness, as well as the ethics of abortion, organ donation, etc. Our "Families Can Talk About" section can give you some ideas, or check out the publisher's discussion guide to delve more deeply into the plot.
This novel touches on a range of hot-button issues. The central conflict -- the act of unwinding -- is a terrifying concept, but it's shown as such and will help readers think about a range of topics. The main character eventually becomes a leader who helps others, and other characters grow as well.
Positive Role Models
Connor is a brave hero who works hard to save himself and others from potential "unwindings."
Violence & Scariness
Parents condemn their child to death. An intended rape is foiled. There's a disturbing, though not graphic, scene of dismemberment while the victim is conscious but unable to feel or see what's happening. Some fights; a man is beaten to death. Deaths due to highway accident, suffocation, and terrorism. Spousal abuse mentioned. A man is knocked out with a blunt object; a near strangulation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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A few "hells" and the like.
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Products & Purchases
An Old Navy store is blown up. Mention of iPods and Spam (the meat, not the mail).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking and drunkenness; mention of illegal drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Unwind is the first book in four-part science-fiction saga set in a society that kills teens to obtain body parts for transplants. Amid other violence, there's a very disturbing (though not graphic) scene of dismemberment that makes this book a better choice for teens mature enough to handle this difficult content.
Where to Read
Based on 32 parent reviews
Too violent and heavy for children under 16
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What's the Story?
In the future, a war has been fought between the pro-life and pro-choice armies. Their final settlement: the Bill of Life, which ends abortion but allows parents to choose to have their children "unwound" between ages 13 and 18. "Unwinding" is the transplanting of every part of the teens' bodies; since every bit of their bodies is still "alive," they haven't technically been killed, right? WhenConnor discovers that his parents have signed an order for his unwinding, he tries to escape. Eventually meeting up with Risa, another escaping Unwind, and Lev, whose life has been tithed to the church, Connor tries to keep them all one step ahead of the police. But Lev may have other ideas.
Is It Any Good?
Once readers have managed the huge suspension of disbelief that UNWIND's premise requires, they'll find the story exciting and thought-provoking. Raising issues that range from abortion, organ transplant, and euthanasia to the rights of parents, children, and society, Shusterman does what he's done many times before -- takes an idea and runs with it far beyond where most authors are willing to go.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the future world presented in Unwind. How does it compare to other books, movies, or other media set in the future?
Why is it important to read books set in imagined futures? What do we have to gain from this story?
What is the point of science fiction? Why do you enjoy reading these books? Do you choose them only for entertainment -- or do they improve your critical thinking?
- Author: Neal Shusterman
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication date: November 1, 2007
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 13
- Number of pages: 335
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 22, 2019
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.
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