Reviews

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Following in the footsteps of Jonathan Swift, Shusterman uncorks a Modest Proposal of his own to solve a Pro-Life/Pro-Choice dilemma. Set in a future in which abortions are outlawed but parents have the option of signing over their 13- to 17-year-olds to be used as organ donors, the tale focuses on 16-year-old Connor, who falls in with other prospective Unwinds and finds a temporary refuge (thanks to a clandestine organization with its own peculiar agenda) before being captured and sent to Happy Jack Harvest Camp. Though laced with intrigue, betrayals, and narrow squeaks, the story is propelled less by the plot (which is largely a series of long set pieces) than by an ingeniously developed cast and premise. But even readers who gravitate more to plot-driven fiction will find this present-tense page-turner thrilling, though it's guaranteed to leave some feeling decidedly queasy despite the (improbable) happy ending.--Peters, John Copyright 2007 Booklist