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Carpe Librum

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Review: UnWholly (Unwind 2) by Neal Shusterman

UnWholly - Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman's Unwind was the best dystopian novel that I have read. He creates a future that seems feasible, yet leaves the reader wondering how we could let ourselves get there. In this second installment in the Unwind trilogy, the story of Conner, Risa, and Lev continues with the addition of a few new characters. Everything seemed neatly wrapped up at the end of Unwind, but UnWholly begs the question, how do these troubled teens marked for unwinding manage to survive with only each other to count on? Worse yet, what happens when they can't even count on each other?

One of the most profound (and a little bit creepy) tools that Shusterman uses in this novel is the use of news headlines. If you don't watch carefully, it is easy to miss which ones are fictional advertisements touting the virtues of unwinding and which ones are true stories from our own time included as the historical background that led to unwinding. For any who would ask, how can we possibly end up in the situation he puts forward, you have your answer.

As with Unwind, UnWholly takes place in a society where abortion has been made illegal, but teenagers can be "unwound". Don't call it dying because these kids continue living in a "divided state" as 99.44% of their parts are placed with people who are more deserving of them. When you make unwanted children 14 year olds instead of unborn children, it sure seems a lot more cold-hearted to get rid of the ones society doesn't want. Yet it becomes the norm, and people stop asking if it should be.

Well, not everybody. Conner is running the "Graveyard" hideout for AWOLs (runaway kids marked for unwinding), and he finds it more difficult than he could have imagined to deal with his own personal issues as well as caring for a few hundred unwanted teens. The introduction of Starkey fills the gap left by Roland, who is not completely gone. Conner starts to wonder what we were all wondering by the end of Unwind. Why does the government continue to allow the Graveyard to exist and how much longer can that last?

Too much goes on in this novel for me to cover it all. It is less of a thought provoking book than the first and more action packed, though we do begin to see the origins of unwinding revealed. A lot is set up for the third book, UnSouled.