Medicine achieves a lot for the world these days. We've gotten to the stage where artificial body parts can take over when the original ones can't work any more.
The world in Unwind doesn't work quite that way. When the original body parts don't work, people can get organic replacements.
It's the source of the replacements that this novel is concerned about – the Unwinds, or the children between 13 and 18 who are signed off to donate their parts to this system. Connor, Risa and Lev are forced to run from society in order to stay in one piece. The book cover does a good job at getting to the point.
Image from Simon and Schuster AU website
The premise is initially hard to accept, but as the book goes on and the characters struggle through their lives, it becomes a very minor issue.
Shusterman writes wonderfully and provides just enough for the reader to understand the story before their imagination takes over. The strength of the storytelling is in the descriptions of the world. The details, some as large as whole side plots, down to the puns and jokes such as "bit by bit", all add to solidify the sinister premise.
Lost in such a situation, with very few people to trust, Connor, Risa have to rely on their wits and street-smarts to survive. They are compelling characters with whom we can sympathise and whom come to like very early on. Although Lev starts off as a timid boy who hasn't had much thought about his future – because he isn't supposed to have one – we see him grow out of that mindset.
This is a great read for anything who likes a story that'll stimulate their thoughts, or lose themselves in another world (even though this world is grim and depressing), or simply want to engage with some strong, three-dimensional characters.
Although it is about average length for a young adult novel, the story contained in its pages is huge. And this is a story that will echo inside your mind long after you've closed its covers. Unwind is eerie, thought-provoking and well written.
It is fortunate, therefore, that this is only the first in a series. I'm looking forward to reading the next book!