Monday, June 23, 2008

UNWIND by Neal Shusterman

In a not specified future, the battle between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice reached the boiling point and culminated with the “Second Civil War” also known as the “Heartland War”. After many deaths on both sides, an agreement was reached - a compromise. The Bill of Life was added to the Constitution.

The Bill of Life states that life starts at conception and is protected until the age of thirteen. Once a child reaches the age of thirteen, the parent has the right to Unwind them. Unwinding is a possibility until the child reaches eighteen and once the child is eighteen, they are safe. Unwinding is a process where the child officially remains alive - but in a “divided state.” Every part of the body is harvested at a Harvest Camp and preserved and later used for people that need replacement parts. For instance, if someone is suffering from heart failure - instead of have bypass surgery you just get a new heart that once belonged to a child that was Unwound.

The story follows three kids - Connor, Lev, and Risa - strangers until fate brought them together on their separate ways to be Unwound.

Connor is a hot-head and has caused his parents just a little too much trouble. He accidentally comes across the papers his parents signed to agree to the Unwinding and decides to escape instead of allowing the government come and take him away.

Risa is a ward of the state living in an orphange. She is a gifted pianist, but not quite gifted enough to prevent her from being Unwound.

Lev is a tithe. His parents are so dedicated to their religion that they tithe 10% of everything they have. Lev is the 10th child in the family and knew he was going to be a tithe from the moment he could understand. He looked forward to the Unwinding and felt he was fulfilling a special purpose with his life.

UNWIND by Neal Shusterman is a frightening look at what a technologically advanced society could turn out to be when the government has the ability to control life to the extent that every part of the human body is available for a problem-free transplant. Yes, it would be nice to replace the part of your brain that was causing epilepsy, but would you want to know that some child between the age of thirteen and eighteen “died” for you to get it? Shusterman gives us a brief look at the possible ramifications of a society that has a Bill of Life.

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