Review first appeared on fefferbooks.com.
Unwind basically blew my mind. That sounds trite, but allow me to qualify. The book is a sci-fi, dystopian survival adventure, like so many others. What sets it apart is the intelligence and ethical boundary-pushing wrapped up in the plot. Unwind centers on the practice of physically “unwinding” wild or criminal teenagers, at the behest of the state or their parents. I’ll allow you to read and find out what, exactly, unwinding means, but Shusterman is skilled at portraying the politics involved in both sides of the equation, and the confusion of many of the characters involved as they struggle with questions of ethics and try to figure out what’s right for themselves. Truthfully, the book is disturbing, because portions of it are just close enough to plausible. Though unwinding, itself, is unlikely to happen, the circumstances that led Connor and Risa’s version of our government to that point are entirely likely, and, in some cases, we are already on that path. It’s just…well, it’s downright freaky.
As for the writing itself, it’s fantastic. Connor and Risa are fabulous characters (a truly independent girl! Love her!) and Lev is such an unlikely, interesting supporting character. The action just keeps coming, and the ending is a truly unexpected, ethereal wonder. If you feel you’ve only got time for one book in this series, make Unwind that book–I feel like it’s the best of the three, and I’ll absolutely read it again.
I picked up two PG-13 swear words. Otherwise clean. 5 stars.