20 September 2014

I was a huge fan of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, and apparently, this is the sort of premise I like in my freaky, horror dystopian novels. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman is one heck of a story, told from the perspectives of three runaways who are to be "unwound" and will be "donating" their body parts in one fell swoop because their parents or guardians don't want them anymore. It's not just about organs in this future society, though, not heart or kidney transplants from accident victims. Now, no longer do you have to deal with that pesky and boring eye color, you can now purchase a new set of eyes from an "unwind" and have the color you want. It is freaky and it is disturbing, particularly in one scene at Happy Jack, a place where all the "unwinds" go to before they undergo the "chopping block." This story is of Connor, Risa, and Lev, as they come of age and run from the law, fugitives from a world that somehow turned into a society that doesn't considered being "unwound" as dying.

Connor is the troublemaker and his parents are done with him; Risa is an orphan and the orphanage is looking to cut costs, and Lev is the religious offering from his family, who has been preparing for this "special" moment his whole life. When Connor, Risa, and Lev cross paths as they run from their fates, with Lev as their hostage, they know they just have to make it until they reach their eighteenth birthday and then they are free.

This is a wild and unforgettable journey, one I won't soon forget. While at first, I wasn't sure about the narrator's intonation, at some point about an hour in, it seemed to *click" and either I got more into the story, or the narrator really got into the groove of it, relaxing the initial monotone, and really digging deeper into each characters' individual personalities, truly giving this story its deserved frightening tension and action-packed ride. By the end of this audiobook, I couldn't go anywhere without listening to it, and made up excuses to go on errands so I could listen to it in the car. I can't tell you anything about what happens at Happy Jack, an absolutely insane camp where the "unwinds" go before their operation is performed, but there is one scene... one scene that really is sticking with me and still freaks me out. And the fact that in this society, people truly believe that these kids aren't dead, but instead are in a "divided state," is just fantastically horror-filled and completely disturbing. And don't worry, the only political agenda is the extreme of a side, whichever side that may be, and it is always scary.

Don't give up on this audiobook because of the first hour or so; stick with it. The story is SO worth it, and I plan to download the rest of the trilogy. Even if there's that one scene at Happy Jack... I can't get that one out of my head at all.

Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Release Date: 11/1/09
Audio Time: 10 hours, 10 minutes
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Click here for an audio sample of Unwind by Neal Shusterman, narrated by Luke Daniels.

FTC Disclosure: I purchased this book from Audible.com

I read this for Stainless Steel Droppings' RIP IX Challenge.
About the Author
Neal Shusterman is an award-winning author who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He is an author, director, and screenwriter, for such projects as "Goosebumps," and is in constant demand to speak at schools and conferences. The Unwind is a trilogy and I've heard is going to be made into a movie.

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About the Narrator (from Goodreads)
Luke Daniels has performed at various repertory theatres around the country, with an emphasis on Shakespeare. His many audiobook credits range from action and suspense to young adult and adult fiction,including works by Philip Roth and John Updike. He currently resides in the Midwest.

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  1. Heck, the cover alone scares me!

  2. I loved that book, but haven't yet delved into the sequel. I think it's partly because I don't want to be disappointed after how much I liked the first book, and partly because I'm waiting to be in the right mood to read it.

  3. Great review! I also really loved this book although I haven't read the next book :/ It's on my list!

  4. Your review has me convinced.....putting this one on hold at my library right now! Great review :)

  5. Well that sounds disturbing. And I love disturbing, so thanks for the suggestion.