Review: Unwind by Neil Shusterman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (November 6, 2007) 
Paperback: 352 pages
Price: $8.99 from Amazon
Summary: Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until theireighteenth birthday, they can't be harmed -- but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.


Review: I don't know what to say about this book. Great setting, great characters, great relationships, so why didn't I like it more? I just couldn't get into the book and made myself keep reading through the force of my will. I think the main reason I felt disconnected from the book was because the story is told from three different perspectives that constantly, and I mean constantly, alternate. I felt that Shusterman switched a little to fast between Risa, Lev, and Connor and often found myself thinking, "Why can't they see something's wrong with the other person?!" I am a fan of alternating voices, but though I did gain more insight into their thoughts, it just didn't work for me.

On the plus side, Shusterman creates a very original world with realistic relationships and characters. I picked this book out for the unusual premise (since I love urban fantasy), and it certainly lived up to its expectations. I could also sympathize with each of the main characters as their backgrounds were quickly but efficiently developed, and each one represented a different reaction I would have to a situation. Shusterman definitely made keen insight in human nature and developement, especially considering this was a book centering on the minds of teens. The only small problem I had was a lack of romance; not the absence of it, but the romance was very little. I would think that normal teens would want to kiss a little more and be more aware of the other gender.

And what I always have to talk about: the ending. I felt that Unwind was predictable at parts, but the end was an enigma until I actually read it. Either that or I'm a very unperceptive reader, which is possible. I'm glad it wasn't those unrealistic happily-ever-after endings, and I think it summed things up nicely.

Bottom Line: Technically, Unwind is a very good book. It boasts a good premise, great setting, and relatable characters, but I just didn't feel it. And the fact that I couldn't stay engrossed in the book prevented me from giving it a higher rating. However, if you're looking for a solid read in a hypothetical world, Unwind is worth a couple of your hours. And who knows? Maybe you'll love butt-kicking, clever Risa like I did.