The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

June 5, 2009

Book review: Sci-fi titles highlight young-adult offerings


By Neal Shusterman

(Young adult)

In a futuristic society, The Heartland War has devastated the United States of America and the peace settlement negotiated between the two sides is known as The Bill of Life. This bill ends abortion, but allows parents the option to have their children between the ages of 13 and 18 “unwound.”

A teen that has been unwound means that every part of the teen is harvested and their body parts are given as transplants to the sick or injured. According to the law, they are not being killed since, technically, every piece of them is still alive, just “in a divided state.”

When sixteen-year-old Connor finds out his parents are having him unwound, he runs away and in the process meets up with Risa and Lev.

Risa is an orphan who is being unwound because she is not a gifted enough pianist. Lev is the tenth child of a wealthy, religious family who is voluntarily having him unwound as a “tithe” to God.

Connor’s plan is to keep them all alive until they turn 18 and can no longer be unwound. However, Lev is morally conflicted because of his religious beliefs and he makes Connor’s and Risa’s journey especially difficult.

Author Neal Shusterman skillfully manages to explore both sides of every issue, using a matter-of-fact approach to broach sensitive subjects. While the idea of being unwound is deeply terrifying, when Shusterman details the process it is with a methodical approach, lacking blood or gore.

Despite the straightforward descriptions, this is definitely a teen and adult title because of the complex subject matter. Shusterman has written a gripping piece of literature that will have readers questioning whether this futuristic society could one day become reality, and if so, what would they do to survive.

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