Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Sci-Fi
Number of Books: 4 + 1 novella + 1 collections of short stories (to be published)
The Unwind series is set after the Second Civil War (aka the Heartland War) that was fought by the pro-life and pro-choice armies. The outcome was The Bill of Life. It states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, later lowered to seventeen, a parent may choose to retroactively “abort” a child on the condition that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end. The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called unwinding, now a common and accepted practice in society.
The story begins with sixteen-year-old Connor Lassiter, whose parents have just signed his unwind order. To avoid being unwound, Connor goes AWOL and attempts to make it to eighteen. The series follows Connor and other AWOLs as they try to put a stop to the practice of unwinding.
This series deals with the issues of abortion, life and death, free will, consciousness, betrayal, and hope. Initially, the thought of parents choosing to dismantle their children is hard to stomach, but it’s hard not to be drawn into the story and the characters’ lives. This series was recommended to me by my English teacher last year, and I am really glad I took the time to read it. I found the characters to be extremely complex and well-written. It didn’t take long for me to really care what happened to each of them. Each of the main characters had a developed backstory, so we’re able to understand why each of them act the way they do.
I found that information about the past and how The Bill of Life came about was revealed very tactfully, and only when it was necessary to the story. There was no great history lesson at the start, so bits and pieces were dropped in throughout the series. I prefer this style of storytelling as it focuses more on the main plot, and lets the reader piece together everything else as they go.
I absolutely adore Shusterman’s writing style, and have since read many of his other novels (my review of his stand-alone novel Challenger Deep can be found here). This series has quickly become one of my all-time favourites, so I’d love for it to get much more recognition. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking dystopia’s. It’s quite a chilling series, so be prepared to be shocked by many of the things that take place.
There are four main novels, plus a novella set in between the first and second books. A collection of short stories set after the last of the main books is due to be released December 2015.
The first novel can be found here: