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Carpe Librum

Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.

If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.

You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.

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Review: UnSouled by Neal Shusterman

UnSouled - Neal Shusterman

UnSouled is an enthralling addition to the Unwind Dystology . . . a word that has been made up for this series, apparently in order to keep readers guessing just how many books Shusterman plans on writing. That's fine with me. I love the ideas that are driving this plot and the deep questions that it forces readers to ask themselves. I even like the word "dystology."

Though it has been overshadowed by lesser dystopian novels, the Unwind series has created a chillingly believable future United States where teens are forced to fight for their lives, not against other teens or an enemy army but their own parents. For more background of the plot, see my review of the first book, Unwind. It can be found here:https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The second book, UnWholly, did not draw me in quite as completely as Unwind had. (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) It started asking more practical questions about how our AWOL Unwinds were going to survive rather than the deeper questions like whether it was worse to kill unborn babies or populate the world with unwanted teenagers. It also demonstrated that those disposed kids were not necessarily going to have the same goals or ideas about how to reach them. 

UnSouled delves deeper into the characters of Lev, Conner, Risa, and Cam, giving a little more background information including where Lev disappeared to when he wasn't with Conner in Unwind. Starkey is back with his faithful Stork followers, ready to take on the world.

The best part of UnSouled is the hints the reader is given about the start of unwinding. As Conner makes it his mission to learn about Janson Rheinschild, who has been erased from history by Proactive Citizenry, he learns that the creator of unwinding technology had substantially different ideas in mind for the future of medicine than what the world has ended up with. But who is behind it? Who benefits when better technology doesn't seem to be possible?

The moral dilemmas are more subtle in this installment, the action less dramatic other than a few scenes with Starkey, and the characters become more complex. Is Cam a human? Does he have a soul? How much of a person's spirit enters those who take ownership of their physical parts, and who does that make the world's only Rewind?

As a slightly romantic undercurrent, Conner and Risa long for each other without wanting to admit it. Cam is obsessed with Risa because he believes that she will complete his humanness. And a new character is forced to face meeting someone who owns a part of her unwound fiance. Does she love the part of him that used to be her one true love or does she hate him for possessing that part?

In the end, it is not the end. The reader gets one tantalizing bit of Rheinschild history that points to at least one more book and more adventure and hardship for our heroes.