11 October 2012

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

It’s finally here. The long-awaited sequel to the bestselling Unwind, which Publishers Weekly called a “gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller.”

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.
Shusterman's back with another masterful book on what life is and who people really are.  Like Unwind, this book is brilliantly plotted at a breakneck pace to keep the reader interested and involved in all the lives of the kids.  The characters are real people with flaws and dreams and decisions that make them seem like real teenagers.  In fact, there is a lot of this book that seems flawlessly designed to make you think about the issues the author is presenting.  I think if I had to find a fault with this book it would be that the plot lines are so fractured and tangled that, although it gives a satisfying read, I'm not sure it would be a satisfying stand-alone.  The Lev/Miracolina story line was probably my favorite, I like the idea of Lev having to defend himself and having to deal with the fact that the anti-unwinders may be using brainwashing just like the unwinders are.  The idea of Cam was really revolting to me, and I came to feel for him a bit while also being entirely conflicted over what he really was, which was exactly the type of discomfort the author intended.  Starkey is also a discomforting spot, because there were times when I could agree with him being unwound because he seems truly bad to the bone . . . and yet Shusterman seems to imply that the "badness" or life choices of a person are inherent in not only their brain but also in their other parts, like Connor's hand, which would mean that Starkey is the last person I would want to receive a donation from.   Interesting conundrums, all of them, and they really define a book that's more about thinking about where you really stand on splitting hairs.  Read this book when you really want to examine yourself, even if you might not like the results.

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