Unsouled-Neal Shusterman-Final Review

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What an ending to a wild ride of a story. Is it the end of this series? I can’t say for sure. Checking Neal’s website shows me that I missed a short-story book about Lev, called Unstrung, which was sandwiched between Unwholly and Unsouled. It details exactly what went on with Lev from the time Conner kidnapped him from his tithing, until he finally ended up at the Graveyard.

Book 3 finds Conner, Risa, Lev, and Cam all together, knowing they have to pull out all the stops to finally put an end to unwinding. The key seems to lie with Sonia, whom Conner knows more about than Sonia finds comfortable. But what she does let them know, is the final work of her husband, determined to fix the mistake he made by inadvertently allowing unwinding to come to be.

A printer, that prints real human organs, making unwinding unnecessary. The powers-that-be bought this from Janson for millions, and destroyed it, making the printers, blueprints, everything disappear. There is too much money to be made in the unwinding market.

This story, and series, is definitely well worth the read. There doesn’t necessarily need to be another book to this, and it would still seem like a complete series. There is plenty of room for another story to follow. If one does, it will definitely be on my bookshelf.

I bought, and read this series, for two reasons. Because it sounded interesting, and to make sure it was okay for my 12 year old daughter to read. In my household, this is a series I will let her read (she is currently reading the first book, Unwind. There is not much in “bloody-gore” violence, but both children and adults are killed throughout the series. The actual act of unwinding is not graphic, but as I said in an earlier review, the way it was written was very disturbing to me (my imagination got the better of me). There are a lot of weapons in this story, mostly guns and assault weapons.

As a perspective, I will not let my 12 year old watch rated R movies, but she does watch PG-13 movies. I try to not let her watch any obscene, rude shows of gross humor or blatant sexual behavior. If I said I never swore in front of her I would be lying, but I do try to monitor what she is exposed to as best as I can in this internet-driven world. We have a very open relationship where we are comfortable discussing anything with each other, without the uncomfortable awkwardness that can sometimes occur.

Unsouled – Neal Shusterman – almost finished

I am midway through Unsouled. I thought with all of my free time I would have been finished by now. Not yet, but hopefully by Monday night!

This story seems to be starting to tie up some loose ends about mid-story, so I am thinking this is likely only a 3-book series. I am not sure if I am happy about this or not; I’ll let you know when I get to the end!

Everyone also seems to be in a place (location) at this part of the story that they do not want to be. Emotionally as well as physically.

Cam is bound and determined to do what he needs to do to earn Risa’s love and respect. Conner and Lev have finally caught back up with each other, at a reservation that Lev has a history with. Starkey is travelling the country with the remaining storks from the Graveyard, blackmailing their way to Nevada, and a harvest camp they plan to rescue every teen from.

An interesting couple of paragraphs in the story:

In this case blackmail for blackmail was the right move, and the man caves, just as Starkey had known he would. Even the hint of harm to his precious children was too much for the man. Incredible. It never ceases to amaze Starkey how far society will go to protect the children it loves and to discard the ones it doesn’t” (Shusterman, N. 2012, pg. 109)

‘You want to know the real reason unwinding keeps going strong, Miss Risa Ward? It isn’t because of the parts we want for ourselves-it’s because of the things we’re willing to do to save our children.’ She thinks about that and laughs ruefully. ‘Imagine that. We’re willing to sacrifice the children we don’t love for the ones we do. And we call ourselves civilized!'”(Shusterman, N. 2012, pg. 173)

Food for thought, and the central theme to this series. One never really knows what they would do to save someone they love, until they have to make that choice, do they?

Unwholly – Neal Shusterman

Well, I was certainly kept in suspense with this second book in the Unwind series. I have to say, Neal was very clever by leaving the end of this book completely hanging with no resolutions. You absolutely have to read the next book to get any type of closer on what is going to happen with Conner, Risa, Lev, and Cam.

I am very happy I already have the 3rd book on my bookshelf (I spent enough at Barnes and Nobles yesterday!)

The action was great, the story flowed very nicely, and this book is definitely a page turner!

Lev and his rescued Miracolina (another tithe) manage to work their way back to the graveyard. Conner has someone turn on him, and put everyone at the Graveyard in danger. Risa appears to have turned to the enemy, but all is not what it seems. A Conner is just doing every possible thing he is capable of to get the AWOL’s in the Graveyard to safety. I’ll just say this was an Epic fail for Conner.

Definitely digging into the 3rd book, Unsouled, starting today.

Have you been reading anything great during this holiday season?

Unwholly – Neal Shusterman

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This book started pretty much where Unwind left off; and I appreciate the fact that the author does not cover every single detail from the first book.

Conner is now running the Graveyard, and they are down to about 700 teens. The age limit for unwinding also got lowered to the age of 17, which means thousands of 17 year olds at harvest camps had to be released.

There now appears to be a shortage of organs, and tissue, so children are now being kidnapped and sold on the black market. The Juvey Cops (that is what they are called in the story) are well aware of the Graveyard, but have a very good reason for leaving the kids there alone.

Supply and Demand

The powers that be can charge enormous fees for body parts while there is a perceived shortage. They want the AWOL teens to stay in the Graveyard, or they will have to lower their selling costs.

And then there is the advertising campaign. One such ad as in the book:

“When Billy’s behavior became too much for us to bear, and we began to fear for our own safety, we did the only humane thing. We sent him to harvest camp, so he could find fulfillment in a divided state. But now, with an age restriction preventing seventeen-year-olds from being unwound, we wouldn’t have had that choice. Just last week a seventeen-year-old girl in our neighborhood got drunk, crashed her car, and killed two innocent people. Would it still have happened if her parents could have chosen to send her to harvest camp? You tell me.” VOTE YES ON PROP 46! End the Cap-17 law, and lift the ban on late teen unwinding! Paid for by Citizens for a Wholesome Tomorrow. (Shusterman, N. 2012, pg 36).

And I thought all of the political advertising was ridiculous!

As for Risa and Lev, they are both still a huge part of this second book; Risa dealing with feeling abandoned by Conner, and Lev being worshipped by everyone for being the “clapper” that didn’t clap. (Clappers are teens who have their blood mixed with explosives, and basically do a suicide mission by clapping their hands, where detonators are implanted, and killing themselves and everyone in the vicinity).

This book has kept me just as interested as the first story did, and I hope to have this finished by tomorrow.

Being Unwound – And The Rest Of The Story

I wasn’t quite sure, as I was getting towards the back half of “Unwind”, if the author was actually going to unwind one of his characters.

Well, he did.

I have to say, there was no talk of blood, cutting, what body parts were being taken, how they were being taken, or anything else graphic. And it literally made me feel sick to my stomach. Literally. (I stopped reading it at one point to focus on something else for a few moments to make sure I was OK).

By using nothing more than words, and planting ideas in my head throughout the story, the author successfully had me experiencing exactly what was going on; as if I were really there.

I am not sure what did it. I have certainly read horror stories that detailed much worse things than this one section ever even touched on. Maybe it was an emotional attachment I had made with the subject. He wasn’t a central character, but I knew him, none-the-less, from this story. I knew he was mean, and conniving, and ruthless, and it was still unbearable to visualize, in my mind, him being unwound.

So Kudos to Neal Shusterman on the writing of this story. I have been scared by books before, emotionally brought to my knees because of books, sobbed uncontrollably because of books, and cheered for the hero, because of books. But to feel sick to my stomach without the graphic detail of blood and gore; well done Mr. Shusterman; well done.

It looks like I can get this book wrapped and under the tree, and on to book #2, Unwholly. Having a whole lot of free time until the New Year should make fast reading of this book, as well as the third one.

Do you have a book that scared you beyond belief?

The Graveyard, The Admiral, and Happy Jack Harvest Camp – Unwind Update

So I haven’t talked about the graveyard yet. It’s not as bad as it sounds (when did “graveyard” ever sound good?) Or the Admiral for that matter. Both good things in a bad situation. The Admiral runs the graveyard, which is in fact a graveyard for aircraft that are out of commission (these really do exist) but still have salvageable parts, or some can even be sold outright as complete, working aircraft. Most are pieced out and used for repair parts to keep other planes flying.

Anyhow, the Admiral is ex-military, with a history that ties him throughout this story, but this is slowly revealed. So I won’t reveal any of it here. The graveyard is where he sends the runaway Unwinds, to keep them safe, and deliver them for jobs they can do until they turn 18 and are officially safe and no longer qualify to be unwound.

Most are happy with the situation, and cooperate, but of course there always has to be at least one person who has to mess it up for everyone, right? Hey, if there wasn’t, this book would have been over already.

pssstttt.... I'm really glad it isn't over yet!
pssstttt…. I’m really glad it isn’t over yet!

So the Admiral finds himself in a bind, with Risa coming to his rescue; Conner confronts the bully of the graveyard, who long has it coming; and Lev manages to make it to the Graveyard, only for them all to end up at one of the many Harvest Camps. Previously known as Unwinding Facilities; but who wants to call them that, it seems like they have no soul to them, and these are good places, right?

Listen up boys and girls, this isn’t your ordinary 5 day summer camp with paddle boats and s’mores. You don’t get to come home from this camp.

Conner seems to buy himself some more time because he is the perceived “Hero” everyone has been talking about; Risa buys herself some more time because she is a concert pianist and they need a piano player for the band that plays music on the roof of the building the Unwinds enter for “harvesting”; Lev is not sure how much time he may have left, and Conner and Risa don’t know he’s back to being a tithe, grouped up with all of the other tithes.

I know I said I would update when I finished, but this story is just too good to keep to myself. I wonder how fast I can get through Book 2, Unwholly, in order to get it wrapped and under the Christmas tree?

Update To “Unwind”

This is a very good book so far; I think I am a bit more than halfway done. Things are getting very interesting for Conner, Risa, and Lev.

Now on the run, all 3 manage to pick up a storked baby (a baby that was not wanted; it can be placed on anyone’s doorstep, those people have to keep that baby). I mean, the cops aren’t looking for 3 teenagers with a baby, right?

Risa and Conner have no idea, but Lev is still determined to get back to his parents, and be the tithe he was groomed to be for the last 13 years. So at first opportunity, he makes a run for it, as well as revealing where Conner and Risa are hiding. Of course he realizes after the fact that this probably was not his smartest move.

Conner and Risa end up turning the baby over to a teacher who helps them escape, and Lev ends up on the run on his own, while meeting another teen, known as CyFi. CyFi has his own set of problems since he has part of a brain that belonged to a thief.

It all sounds strange, I know 🙂 But after reading any science fiction books, or any Stephen King books for that matter, I think you may very well get absorbed by this book.

I will update when I have it finished, which hopefully will be within a day or two. I need to get it wrapped and under the tree for my daughter!

One of many interesting things I have read so far:

“Which was worse, Risa often wondered-to have tens of thousands of babies that no one wanted, or to silently make them go away before they were even born? On different days Risa had different answers” (Shusterman, N. 2007, pg 115).

What are you reading that you can’t put down?