UnWholly Book Review

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

People can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. After their revolt at the Happy Jack Harvest Camp, Lev, Connor, and Risa are trying to make society question the morality of unwinding troublesome teens for tissue, organs, and other parts. But how do you take down a practice that has become such a source of revenue for the government and those who work on the black market? Worse yet, what do you do when the very people who are supposed to protect kids are making things like Cam, a Frankenstein monster, made up of over 100 kids who were unwound. As each of the kids struggles against the system, each is searching for the humanity within themselves.

This second Unwind installment, like many sequels, is not the "tear down of the system" that you so badly yearn for. Instead this book is a character study, a journey into the psyche of Lev, Risa, Connor, and Cam along with Hayden, Starkey, and Miracolina as they become the people they need to be in order to lead. Can Lev really live up to the saint-like following he has accrued among those who are tithed? Is Connor really the right leader for the AWOL unwinds? Will a young man who has been abandoned by two families be able to create a new darker one of his own? Can a person hold their values while being forced to display the opposite of what they believe? And what happens when a monster has thought and feelings that can't be ignored no matter what he is made of?

This did make for a less fast-paced story, but I found myself staying up late to finish reading one chapter and then another, unable to put it down, desperate to return to each character.

The thing that I liked about Unwind, was the constant feeling of repulsion, which is obviously what Shusterman was aiming for. I still find it completely unrealistic, especially the "storking" where people leave their unwanted children on doorsteps. I feel even more so with this book as we never actually meet any storked kids whose parents actually like or want them. I felt like storking was basically this society's way of getting people to pay for the upkeep of kids until they were old enough to be unwound. What kind of bond or love would ever be created? Worse yet, instead of preparing their children for unwinding, parents often have the Juvies come pick up their kids in the middle of the night, their shame written on their face. This entire world that Shusterman has created felt very Spartan in nature. 

Just like the first, UnWholly is a well-done dystopian sci-fi with some great characters who are believable, even if the world isn't sometimes.