Publication Date: 11/06/2007
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
"Connor stands there for the longest time, until the motion sensor light goes out. Being alone had not been part of the plan, but he realises it should have been. From the moment his parents signed those papers, Connor was alone. (10)"
How I missed this I'm not sure, but when I read the synopsis for Unwind I somehow entirely missed the definition of what it was to be unwound and it was something of a horrific discovery as I read more and more, putting the pieces together. The book, divided into seven parts, begins with a part called "Triplicate" named in reference to the fact that in order to have a child unwound, a parent must sign carbon-copy paperwork - and the subtle reference to carbon being duplicated and split is a clever one - with the white copy of the paper work going to the government, the yellow copy with the child, and the pink stays with the parents. The first heading also refers to the introduction of the three main characters and their stories. First is Connor, a so-called normal child raised in the average family setting with his parents and younger brother except for the fact that Connor has some behavioral issues. Next is Lev whose very religious family has decided that Lev would literally be a tithe for the family to the world, and the Lev we first meet is perfectly fine with this not knowing any other life. Last is Risa, a girl raised in a State Home whose gift of playing the piano was not enough to save her a bed in the orphanage and to clear space will be unwound.
Connor starts things into motion when he finds three tickets for a vacation. Curious as to why only three, he soon finds his unwind paperwork and decides to make a run for it. The turn of events end up with his meeting Lev and Risa somewhat unwillingly but the three of them share a bond as only Unwind can. I won't say too much about their journey but, like I mentioned earlier, without knowing what it really meant to be unwound, reading this book really was like putting together the pieces of the puzzle I didn't want to know the picture to. The people they meet along the way change their perception of what is is to be an Unwind, how they see themselves, and develop a keen sense of (and distaste for) how easy it is to throw someone way - and not just Unwinds, either - no matter who they are to you. Their only goal is to make it until eighteen, to live.
It is difficult to put into words just how awesome (in the most literal sense) I thought this book was. I won't lie, this is a difficult book to read, but I would implore anyone that if you haven't read this book that you should at least consider it. Everything about it was so well thought out from the references to actual events under the part headers which tie into what is happening within that section of the book to the realism of it all - despite that current science isn't up to par for this, thankfully, there wasn't a moment where something stood out to me because it was implausible. I loved these characters not because they were on their death beds but because they had real, human reactions to the situation and their journey was courageous and heartbreaking.
As a forewarning - there is one scene that is probably the most graphic thing that I've ever read, not because of blood and gore but simply due to the absence of words and things left implied that go straight to your imagination. Even still, I haven't added a book to my favorites in a long time, but Unwind was an immediate add.