"Funny but when he was little Connor was terrified of the boogeyman. He would have to sleep with the lights on, he would have his parents check his closet every night. They told him that the boogeyman wasn't real, but they lied. The Bill of Life made the boogeyman real, and he didn't need the closet; he came walking right in through the front door." (4)Unwind by Neal Shusterman is dystopia at its best. Connor is born into a new world. A world set after the Heartland Wars or the Second Civil War. The fight was between people in the pro-life camp and those in the pro-choice camp. The compromise? The Bill of Life. "The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively 'abort' a child…on the condition that the child's life doesn't 'technically' end. The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called 'unwinding.' Unwinding is now a common, and accepted, practice in society." (Prologue/1) Imagine living in a world where—if you're a teenager—your life is constantly in danger. If you anger your parents just one time too many, you could be on the next bus out of town heading to a Harvest camp or the "chop shop" as it's called in slang. Your organs—every single part of you (except maybe your appendix), stripped away and 'donated' to make someone else's life better. This scenario is about to become terrifyingly real to three teenagers. Told through many narrators, Unwind is a suspenseful, fast-paced read. While the premise is fascinating in and of itself, Shusterman manages to make this story resonate with strong characters. The world he creates is haunting yet not completely without hope and redemption as people—teens and adults—team up to change the world one step at a time. To read the complete review, visit the October issue of The Edge of the Forest. Check the review archives if a new issue has already been posted.
Saturday Review of Books: December 3, 2016
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