Book - 2007
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In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2007.
ISBN: 9781416912040
Characteristics: 335 p. ;,22 cm.
Alternative Title: Unwind


From the critics

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Jun 17, 2019

At the age of sixteen, Connor learns that his parents have signed an "unwind order" for him, and he immediately makes plans to escape. He lives in a dystopian future United States in which the pro-life and pro-choice factions have come to a shocking compromise: abortion is now illegal, but when a child reaches the age of thirteen his parents may then opt to have him "unwound," a process in which all body parts are transplanted into other individuals. See, they're still technically "living," just not whole.

I found this first book in the series compelling, and it holds much food for thought. I don't think I will personally go further in the series, though, as my to-read list is already pretty lengthy. Definitely recommended for older teens.

May 06, 2019

This book is amazing and I would totally recommend it. It takes place in a dystopian future. I had a hard time putting it down! Although it is such a great book, the idea is kind of freaky of being unwounded. I love the series, but I hope it doesn't have to be a future in real life. I have to admit, this book is much better than the sequels. It has most of the action in it.

Feb 22, 2019

Unwind is a teen novel with deep themes involving life, death, consciousness and more. One scene has four boys talking while sealed in a cargo crate. They talk about when life begins: whether it's when a baby is conceived, when it sucks its thumb, or when it's loved. One of the boys simply states that he doesn't know. This book inspires questions.

Set in a dystopian future, this book includes fantasy, realism, science fiction, a smattering of religion, and some dribbles of horror.

One of my grandsons read this book for grade 10 English and he recommended it to me. I'm glad I read it and now I plan to discuss the book's themes with him.

Vilka Nov 05, 2018

A fast-paced thriller/adventure set in an America that has resolved the organ donor shortage and the abortion issue with a compromise: children's lives are sacred from conception until age 13, but from 13 until they turn 18 parents or guardians can choose to sign them over to be 'unwound': used for parts. This is not considered killing because the children 'live' in various pieces in recipients' bodies. The story follows three teens on the run: a boy signed over by his overwhelmed parents for being a troublemaker, a girl in foster care signed over to save orphanage costs, and a boy who was groomed to be an Unwind from birth as part of his parents' sense of religious charity.
The action starts almost immediately and the teens' struggle for survival is vivid and realistic (though not gory). Moral questions about unwinding are pondered from each teen's perspective without slowing things down or feeling 'preachy', and the world of 'Unwinding' feels very believable. Overall a quick, entertaining read, and a good conversation-starter!

Oct 11, 2018

This book is a perfect example of 'What if?' and the scary part is this is written in such a way that the terrible process of Unwinding could easily be a reality. The horrifying implication of this novel is that society could one day proceed to this level of selfishness, where it is more important to have the perfect family, and that this one thing is so important that you would willingly send your son or daughter to be 'Unwound.' Whether or not this is killing a child doesn't seem to matter, though the law is carefully written in a way to get around this 'problem.'

'Unwind' offers a disturbing look into the heart of society and human nature, but not all is lost. Though some people have a natural inclination toward bad behavior or just plain evil, there is still compassion and love in the world. A good parallel would be those who sheltered Jews during WWII.

This book is horrifying and disturbing, and I would suggest this novel to young adults and older. 'Unwind' is thought-provoking and serious, forcing a person to examine what he believes about life and, ultimately, who is in control of that life. It is written wonderfully well and is easy to read, though digesting the heavy content matter will take a while. Certainly worth reading!

Apr 06, 2018

I read this book for school, and most of the kids in my class loved it. The ways that the children get out of the different scenarios are extremely clever. I would definitely reccomend this book.

Dec 02, 2017

I had just finished rereading Scythe (For like the 20th time) and I wanted to see what else Neal Shusterman had written. The moment I started reading it I was hooked. It was such a good book with a haunting topic. I liked the three different perspectives of the kids. It is a really good book.

GCPL_Teen Jun 30, 2017

If you have not read any books by Shusterman go check out out right now! This novel takes place in an interesting, yet bleak, futuristic world. The societal structure is very thought provoking. Without actually mentioning it, this book addresses thoughts about abortion and the value of human life.

DBRL_KrisA Jun 23, 2017

The book is, honestly, about the abortion argument. On the one hand, the pro-lifers, who claim life begins at conception; on the other side, the pro-choicers, some of whom claim life (or the soul) doesn't begin until the child is born and is affected by its surroundings, and some of whom say it doesn't matter when life begins - it's the choice of the woman involved as to whether she wants to/is required to carry the baby to term. In this dystopian future, the argument gets so violent that it starts an actual war, pro-life vs. pro-choice, and the only way it can be stopped is for a compromise, the Bill of Life, to be created. The Bill of Life states that 1) abortion is illegal; 2) from birth to the age of 13, a child's life is sacred; 3) from the age of 13 until a child reaches majority at 18, their parents can sign paperwork to have them "unwound" - that is, to have their body parts harvested and sold off. (This is justified and not considered murder because, as long as their entire body is harvested, they will live on in the various people who receive the harvested parts.) The children being unwound (the "Unwinds") have no say in the decision, and their parents can't change their minds once the paperwork has been signed.

Children are unwound for various reasons - for example, Connor is a problem child and his parents just want him gone; Risa is a ward of the state and is being unwound so the state can use the money to care for other wards; Roland stops his stepfather from beating up his mother, and his mother sides with the stepfather, so Roland has to go; and Lev is a "tithe", a person who has been raised from birth to be his family's way of giving back to God 10 percent of what they have.

In addition to the abortion question, and the discussion of when life begins, Shusterman brings up several other sticky moral and social questions. He doesn't take sides, for the most part; he just lays out the issue and has his characters discuss the pros and cons, which should give the average young adult readers the opportunity to weigh the topic for themselves.

Part 1 of a series, but I don't think I'll read more of the series - not because this was bad, but because it wrapped up so nicely that I don't want to spoil it by seeing what nastiness happens to the heroes in further adventures.

Jun 15, 2017

I couldn't put this book down!! Most of the time I would stay up all night reading.

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Age Suitability

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Jun 18, 2019

orange_eagle_377 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 13 and 90

May 06, 2019

DarhkCanary thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

LoganLib_Dove Apr 30, 2019

LoganLib_Dove thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Oct 05, 2016

Sophia123_456 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Jun 16, 2016

blue_turtle_1338 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Dec 11, 2015

Re_Bel thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Feb 16, 2015

green_chicken_261 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Sep 30, 2014

westonford thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Nov 14, 2013

Dee_xx thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jan 08, 2013

NicoleHerdman01 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Jul 21, 2015

Would you rather die or be unwound?

Oct 22, 2014

Then he falls to his knees, drops the bundle of shiny things at his feet, and, rocking back and forth, makes a desperate plea.
"Please," he says. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."
"Please," he says, "Take it. I don't need it. I don't want it."
"Please," he says. "Do anything. But don't unwind me."

Sep 30, 2014

"if you're asking if we have a cause, we don't, so get that out of your head."
- Cleaver
"'cause 'all the king's horses and all the kings men . . . couldn't put Humphrey together again.'"

Jun 22, 2014

“[...] every time he forces himself to think before acting, it's her voice in his head telling him to slow down. He wants to tell her, but she's always so busy in the medical jet—and you don't just go to somebody and say, "I'm a better person because you're in my head.”

Jun 20, 2014

"Looks are deceiving," Risa says. "After all, when I first saw you I thought you looked reasonably intelligent."

Jun 20, 2014

"Fight, flight, and screw up royally."

Jun 20, 2014

"I'm scared," he says.
"I know," says the nurse.
"I want you all to go to Hell."
"That's natural."

Jun 20, 2014

"You can't change laws without first changing human nature.'
-Nurse Greta

You can't change human nature without first changing the law.'
-Nurse Yvonne"

Jun 20, 2014

"In a perfect world everything would be either black or white, right or wrong, and everyone would know the difference. But this isn't a perfect world. The problem is people who think it is."


Add a Summary
Sep 30, 2014

A dystopian Future based after a civil war, not to far away, in which beginning at the age 13 kids can be literally unwound, meaning they are taken apart, and sold for individual parts to those who need them, making it unnecessary to cure diseases, but rather to replace the infected portion of the body. a new form of terrorists known as "clappers" detonate explosives inside their blood mainly by clapping. parents are now able to leave unwanted infants at other people's doors as long as they're not caught. the simply wrong ideas in this book will not allow you to put it down.

vpl_childrens Aug 15, 2014

In a horrifying not too distant future, unruly teenagers can be unwound. This means that their entire bodies are taken apart and donated to other people, and they are told they get to live on in "a divided state." It won't take long for you to get on side with Connor, the young protagonist who runs from his unwinding. He meets a few other young people along the way..This very dystopic tale continues in the sequel Unwholly. Highly creepy, super exciting and just not put-downable!

Aug 15, 2011

Imagine a world where there are no doctors looking for cures-only body parts for replacements. A story told in a world where unwanted teens being given up to be chopped up to pieces to salvage their body parts is actually a good thing- and of 3 kids who managed to escape...


Add Notices
May 06, 2019

Other: Some disturbing parts in the book. Not recommended for young children

Sep 30, 2014

Other: Disturbing scenes and ideas. not recommended for young children.

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