Thursday, January 24, 2008


Shusterman, Neal. 2007. UNWIND. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416912045 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

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, stripped away and “donated” to make someone else's life better. This scenario is about to become terrifyingly real to three teenagers. UNWIND by Neal Shusterman is dystopia at its best. Connor and his friends are born into a new world, one set after the Heartland Wars. The fight was between people in the pro-life camp and those in the pro-choice camp. The compromise? The Bill of Life, which states “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. (Prologue/1) Now three teens must fight to survive to the age of eighteen.

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.

Discuss the ethics of “The Bill of Life” and its ongoing implications regarding the value of life and its impact on Shusterman’s society.

Script a fan video for the novel. How would you “sell” this book to others?

Other dystopias:
Hautman, Pete. RASH. 068969045
Lott, Tim. FEARLESS. 0763636371
Malley, Gemma. THE DECLARATION. 1599901196
Westerfeld, Scott. EXTRAS. 1416951179

By Becky Laney

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