Unwind: Unwind Dystology, Book 1 Book Poster Image

Unwind: Unwind Dystology, Book 1



Shocking sci-fi gives teens plenty to get wound up about.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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."


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.


Several kisses.


A few "hells" and the like.


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.

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.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the future world presented here. 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?

  • More generally, 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? 

Book details

Author:Neal Shusterman
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:November 1, 2007
Number of pages:335
Publisher's recommended age(s):13
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Unwind: Unwind Dystology, Book 1 was written by

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Parent of a 11 year old Written bymjramsey1713 November 25, 2009

Horrible, sick, and disturbing

My 11-year-old son heard about this book from his advanced Language Arts teacher (!!!) and brought it home. I often like to read the same book he is reading, so we can have fun talking about it. I was shocked beyond belief upon reading just the first few paragraphs of this book. I eventually took it away from him and said it was not appropriate for him (made him mad at me, but oh well...). I cannot see that this sick book about the government-sanctioned murder and dismemberment of children would be appropriate for ANY age child. And I am an avid science fiction fan!!! BEWARE!!!! STAY AWAY!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byLeelah August 17, 2011

The most distrubing book I've ever read

A review from my fifteen year old daughter: I'm a fifteen year old girl who loves to read, especially science fiction, and this is the most disturbing young adult novel I've ever read. The 'bad guys' are doctors, parents, and the church. This idea causes kids to doubt their security. It takes away all the people kids can trust in when they are afraid, so that they are only trusting in one another. I know that it's fiction, but sometimes it's difficult for a kid to separate fact from fantasy, especially when they don't know all the facts. I had nightmares for a week because I had it in my mind that what happened in this book could actually be possible. I believe that the book has excellent messages, but not any that kids need to know. I would classify this as an adult book. Neal Shusterman is trying to make a point by taking things to the extreme. I understand that. But does the point have to be made to kids?
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byst8ergirl2324 August 12, 2010

I'm in-between the ages of 10 and 15 and I loved this book!

This is my second time reading it, and I loved it! I wouldn't recommend it for people under the ages of 10. It is a little disturbing because of the 'unwinding' part, but it's NOT real, its FICTION.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models


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