Gr 9 Up-An unsettling futuristic novel set after the Second Civil War. Connor Lassiter, age 16, runs away from his suburban Ohio home after discovering that his parents have scheduled his "unwinding." His body parts will go to other people who need them. He will be both terminated and "technically" kept alive, only in a separated state. The constitutional amendments known as "The Bill of Life" permit parents to choose "retroactive" abortion for children between the ages of 13 and 18. Connor meets another Unwind, Risa, and they kidnap Lev, who is a Tithe (the 10th child born to a single family with the express purpose of being unwound). Their escape and survival stories interweave as they struggle to avoid harvest camps. Luckily, an underground network is helping Unwinds escape to safety. There is evenhanded, thoughtful treatment of many issues, including when life starts and stops, consciousness, religion, free will, law, trust and betrayal, suicide bombers, and hope. Initially, the premise of parents dismantling their children is hard to accept; however, readers are quickly drawn into the story, which is told in a gripping, omniscient voice. Characters live and breathe; they are fully realized and complex, sometimes making wrenchingly difficult decisions. This is a thought-provoking, well-paced read that will appeal widely, especially to readers who enjoy Scott Westerfeld's Uglies (2005), Pretties (2005), and Specials (2006, all S & S).-Amy J. Chow, New York Public Library Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Shusterman (Everlost) explores one of the most divisive of topics-abortion-in this gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller. After a civil war waged over abortion has almost destroyed America, completely new laws are in effect. Human life can never be "terminated," but between the ages of 13 and 18, a child can be "unwound" by his parents, an irrevocable decision that leads to every single bit of his body being harvested for medical use. As the novel opens, 16-year-old Connor has secretly discovered his parents' copy of his unwind order, and decides to "kick-AWOL," or run away. Connor's escape inadvertently sweeps up two other Unwinds: a ward of the state who is not quite talented enough to merit her place in a state home any longer, and the 10th son of religious parents, who gave birth to him just to "tithe" him. Beyond his pulse-pounding pace, the cliffhangers and the bombshells, Shusterman has a gift for extrapolating the effects of alien circumstances on ordinary people and everyday behavior. He brings in folklore, medical practices, and slang that reflect the impact of unwinding, creating a dense and believable backdrop. Characters undergo profound changes in a plot that never stops surprising readers. The issues raised could not be more provocative-the sanctity of life, the meaning of being human-while the delivery could hardly be more engrossing or better aimed to teens. Ages 13-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
In the not-so-distant future, everyone has an absolute right to life--unless your parents decide on the do-over option. Between your 13th and 18th birthdays, they can have you "unwound," your pieces and parts extracted and recycled for the donor market. Why It Is Great: The unwound are kept alive until the very end of the harvesting process. A single scene made this book one of the scariest reads published for teens last year. Why It Is for Us: Shusterman's exploration of good intentions gone very, very bad will resonate with adult readers frustrated by the prochoice/prolife debate. The premise falls down in a few, significant places, but the book will still reward fans of dystopian sf. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"Well-written, this draws the readers into a world that is both familiar and strangely foreign, and generates feelings of horror, disturbance, disgust and fear. As with classics such as "1984" and "Fahrenheit 451", one can only hope that this vision of the future never becomes reality."--"Kirkus Reviews" "The power of the novel lies in what it doesn't do: come down explicitly on one side or the other."--"The New York Times Book Review" "Nail-biting, character-driven thriller."--"The Horn Book" * "A thought-provoking, well-paced read that will appeal widely."--"School Library Journal", starred review "Poignant, compelling, and ultimately terrifying, this book will enjoy popularity with a wide range of readers."--"VOYA", 4Q4P "Following in the footsteps of Jonathan Swift, Shusterman uncorks a Modest Proposal of his own to solve a Pro-Life/Pro-Choice dilemma...ingeniously developed cast and premise."--"Booklist" * "Gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller...The issues raised could not be more provocative--the sanctity of life, the meaning of being human--while the delivery could hardly be more engrossing or better aimed to teens."--"Publishers Weekly, "starred review "The shocking premise is unveiled immediately, and a nail-biting pace is sustained throughout, with the teens flung headlong into a true life-or-death struggle...these haunting debates will likely linger in the reader's mind even after the riveting plot fades...an ideal blend of philosophy and action set in a compelling futuristic landscape."--"The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books"