Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Book Review: UnWholly

Book: UnWholly (Unwind Trilogy #2) by Neal Shusterman, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Reader, 416 pages.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
It’s finally here. The long-awaited sequel to the bestselling Unwind, which Publishers Weekly called a “gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller.”

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.

My Thoughts:
I loved Unwind and loved UnWholly. I can hardly wait for the third book to come out to see how everything turns out.

The whole series is based in a dystopian future where children from age 13 to 17 can be retroactively aborted by being unwound, meaning that they are taken apart and their body parts are used as transplants for others. I find this premise to be one of the creepiest of the dystopian's that I have read. The stuff of nightmares. And what makes it worse is that Shusterman uses quotes and links from real internet sites that support what's happening in the book.

As much as I loved this book, I did find the beginning to be slower and harder to get into than Unwind. However I was so vested in the characters that it wasn't much of an issue.

So much has changed in UnWholly: Connor is now in charge of the Graveyard, the refugee camp of the runaway unwinds; Risa is in a wheelchair; Lev has been transformed into a saint. There are also a host of new characters. Shusterman masterfully entwines their stories, alternating points of view in each chapter, but doing it in such a way that I never felt confused about who was talking. Perhaps that is a tribute to the strong voice that each character has.

And then, one of the creepiest things of all is Cam, a boy completely constructed from unwound kids. There are so many moral dilemmas around this -- is he human? does he have a soul? What is life?

I also love the political intrigue in the book, how there must be something more to unwinding, how it keeps certain people in line, and creates business opportunities for others. Again, these arguments are based in our real world issues, just pushed to the extreme.

I highly recommend this series and think that it will appeal to boys and girls, and even reluctant readers.

Here is the book trailer from YouTube:


  1. Replies
    1. The arguments about the value of a human life and the ethics of "unwinding" one.


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