The Low Down: “The Heartland War” was between the Pro-choice and Pro-life armies. The end result was abortion being illegal. “The Bill of Life” did give parents an eventual choice: to “unwind” their child at any time between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. So if parents decided later that they no longer wanted that child, they could sign the documents and that child would be taken immediately to a “Harvest Camp.” The child would not be killed; every part of them would be given to a person in need.
Connor Lassiter is lucky; he finds out about his unwinding while getting a stapler from his dad’s office. Connor used to be a good kid, but he has been causing problems lately. He decides to run away, but hasn’t thought beyond that. After he takes off, he meets Risa, a ward of the state. She is being unwound because there’s no more room for her at the orphanage and it’s decided that she doesn’t have any skills that warrant keeping her around. Running together, Connor impulsively kidnaps a Tithe.
Can Connor and Risa escape? What happens to Lev, the Tithe, who has been preparing his whole life to be unwound in service to God?
Best Thang ‘Bout It: A totally new and fresh concept for a story. What kind of parent signs an irrevocable order to have their teenager turned into a human vending machine? And, when Lev meets up and travels with CyFi, when he figures out why CyFi needs to get to Joplin, Missouri is heartbreaking. It’s the beginning of Lev falling out of love with what he was groomed for.
I’m Cranky Because: I would have liked a little more explanation of the horror of The Heartland War. I think it would have made the end result even more creepy. And even though the book focused on three particular kids, I wanted to know them better than I did.
Should You?: Yes, but don’t tranq any cops on your way.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman was published on November 6, 2007 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction Dystopian
Ages: 13 and up