UnWholly- Neal Shusterman

I know I’ve mentioned a thousand times how much I liked Unwind  by Neal Shusterman and how it is such a good and awesome book and it will make you think and feel and why haven’t you read it yet?  Well, when I finished Unwind, I was content in thinking there would be no sequel.  However, in writing my review, I discovered that this would indeed be yet.another.trilogy.  Ok, fine, I thought.  I will read UnWholly when it comes out and I might be disappointed by another middle book in trilogy (Insurgent, I am looking at you).

So I approached UnWholly with some caution.  And I probably didn’t need to.  UnWholly is all kinds of good and thought-provoking.  Shusterman is an author who turned his book into a trilogy because he had more to say and more issues to explore (eugenics!  black market organs!), not because he (or a publisher) wanted to stretch his one story over three books to make more money.  This is something I can applaud and endorse wholeheartedly.

We are brought back to the crazy world in which ending a life is illegal from conception until 13 years of age, but between ages 13 and 16 (the age limit was lowered after the mess at Happy Jack Harvest Camp) unwinding unruly and unwanted teens is legitimate and necessary in order to sustain a medical system which is able to transplant any and all organs.  We get to see what Connor, Risa, and Lev are up to these days, but we are also introduced to some new characters– Camus Comprix, a human made entirely of other people’s harvested organs, Starkey, a storked baby who is enraged at the lesser treatment of storks, Miracolina, a tithe who has made peace with becoming a sacrifice to God, and a so-called parts-pirate, who abducts runaway unwinds or unfortunate teens for sale on the black market.

I don’t want to spoil this book for those of you who have yet to read Unwind, but I will say you learn a little more about why the Unwind Accords were struck up, why parents and the government were able to turn a blind eye towards their troubled young people.  You also get a glimpse of the future, of what could be possible if teens banded together to fight against the system instead of hide from it.  You also get to see more nefarious sides of organ harvesting… like the boy made up of other people’s body parts– what sort of humanity does he have?  Is he as much a victim of this system as the unwinds themselves are?  And you get a glimpse into the black market of organ harvesting, which is as much or if not more disturbing than government-sanctioned unwinding.

We also get the perspective of another deeply troubled unwind like we did with Roland in Unwind.  I almost can understand the justification for unwinding these youthful psychopaths.  Shusterman deals in the shades of gray, and his portrayal of the varying troubledness of unwinds just clouds the issue even further.  Can we justify killing off the most dangerous/sick members of our society?  If so, what happens when their organs are transplanted into others?  Does that evil live on in their body parts?

If you haven’t given this series a try, I’d highly recommend it.  Shusterman will challenge you to think, question your black-and-white positions on divisive issues like abortion and genetic research and at the same time give you characters you will root for and ones you will cringe at.  There is such complexity to the characters, world, and issues in this book that it has quickly become one of my favorite dystopian series out there.

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2 thoughts on “UnWholly- Neal Shusterman

    • I’ve gotten a little tired of all the trilogies out there… especially when it seems like the story doesn’t justify one. I didn’t think this storyline required a trilogy, but Shusterman definitely found a way to expand upon his arguments and give you even more things to think about. Hope you enjoy it!

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