Thursday, January 5, 2012

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Well it's 2012. A new year and a new start, and all that jazz. And a good year to get things done in, if the Aztec or Mayan calender or whatever is to be believed. Not that I do. I mean, yeah, one can read ominous predictions in the sudden stopping of the calendar, but hey. Think about it. Apple can't even make an iPhone that stays caught up in technology for more than a few years. They made a calendar that lasted this far. Pretty good, especially carving it in stone and all that.

Reading this year has gotten off to an awesome start. I love it when that happens. It can set the tone for the whole year. Last year in January I read Beastly, by Alex Flinn, and was blown away by how good it was. This year I chose to turn to the YA genre again and was not disappointed.

The book Unwind by Neal Shusterman is in a word, compelling. To be honest, I had heard good things about it, read some good reviews on goodreads, and was generally excited.

Until I started reading it.

Don't take that the wrong way. I loved the book. I just had no idea how hard a book it would be to read.

The story follows three teens in a dystopian look at an American future. In it, a second civil war has been fought and waged over the issue of abortion. On one side, pro-life, on the other, pro-choice, and in the middle and desperately trying to hang on and put the pieces back together, the remains of the government. The war was ended finally when a new technology was developed, one which allowed the use of every cell of an organ donor. And one that would allow the donor to live on, or so they argued, just in a different form.

Suddenly the bill of life is passed, and the war is over. Abortion is a thing of the past. No longer legal, children are born that might not otherwise be. The compromise is that between the ages of 13 and 18 parents can elect to have their children "unwound". The process does not violate the pro-life stance, as they technically continue to "live" just in another form.

As I started reading this, I was incredulous. As a parent I just couldn't imagine how people could go for something like that. But here's where the book succeeds.

It made me believe it.

Yes, even with my doubts that a society could ever do something like that, it brought it home. The book scores on another level. As it starts, following three teens that are scheduled to be unwound and go on the run to escape their ghastly fate, I thought the book was more of a social commentary. One that would ramble, telling the stories of these three in an attempt to get the reader to think about it, and that would more or less be it. And while the story was a thought provoking moral commentary, here's where it surprised me.

The story was fantastic.

Though seemingly random at first, the author brings all the strings together in ways that I didn't see coming. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's on a level with The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It is that good. So if you're looking to kick your new year's reading off with a bang and you think you can handle it, read this. You won't regret it.

I've also been getting into Celtic music on Pandora lately. Particularly the group The High Kings. They're the ones that do this awesome song in Sherlock Holmes:

Doesn't get much better than that. But I better get back to work. Working on a steampunk project, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

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