The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
The premise of this book is chilling to say the least. I can’t imagine parents who would willingly do this to a child, but it is still frightening. Shusterman has written quite a compelling series, as this is the debut book. I don’t believe I’ve read the last one yet, but I will have to get to it.
This book basically pits children from ages thirteen to eighteen against the world, because if they become “too much” of a troublemaker (and that line is always blurry), they can easily be shipped off and unwound into different people. ‘Technically’ the kids don’t die, so maybe that’s how they adults are okay with this. But, not everyone is, as there are the stirrings of a rebellion.
I must say, Connor is basically written to be the leadership type. His actions, decisions, and temperament all point to the fact that he’s meant to lead a group, whether it is just the three main characters or if it’s an entire group of children fighting against the wish that they be unwound.
There are so many things wrong with this society, and yet that’s what makes it compelling to read, to see the characters triumph over the circumstances. People can do this thing called “storking”, which is leaving a baby on someone’s doorstep and they are legally required to care for it since abortion is not allowed any longer. Sounds good in theory, until you realize that it brings unnecessary burden on families that many not be able to afford it or care for the child easily.
Either way, this is one of the first dystopian series I ever read, and I’m kind of surprised that it took me this long to write a review of it. But, I do plan on taking up the last book soon, so I’ve been refreshing my memory. Shusterman managed to get in on a trend at least a year or more before it began to blow up with the onset of the Hunger Games franchise, so I have to give him credit for jumping in on a previously unloved genre.
Also side note, there’s this very well done video on YouTube I stumbled across depicting and “unwinding”. It’s not graphic, but it’s still slightly frightening because of the sound effects and all. Fair warning. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested.
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