If you like Dystopian novels like Hunger Games and Divergent or you like stories with multiple titles in the series, you have hit the jackpot with Neal Shusterman's Unwind Dystology. If I were still teaching English, I would like to included at least one of these books in my curriculum.
Unwind, the first book in the series, begins sometime in the not too distant future.after a second Civil War in America fought over the issue of abortion. A compromise to end the fighting is the Bill of Life which states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. However, a loophole allows parents to retroactively get rid of a teenager through a process called “unwinding.” The entire human body is separated into various parts for the transplant market.
Three teens defy the system and run away from their unwinding. Connor, who becomes known as the Akron AWOL, is a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding. Risa is a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to necessary cost-cutting measures in a state institution. Lev, his parents’ tenth child, has had his unwinding planned since birth as a religious tithing.
Although this may seem a little far fetched, many of the issues in the series could be pulled from today's news. In fact, Shusterman has included many articles in the text of the story. For example there are places right now where "feral" teens create real problems in urban settings.
The "Parts Pirates" in the story already exist in the blackmarket for human organs.
Do translated organs carry cellular memory? For example could personality changes occur after a heart transplant? There have been numerous instances of this effect.
Right now researchers are working on 3D printers that can use a person's own cells to reproduce organs for transplant. Think what this would mean to the 121,000 Americans on the waiting list for organ transplants. On average 21 people a day die while waiting for an organ.
Do corporate and governmental entities block developments that could hurt the financial well-being to these entities? For example would the government prevent automobiles in this country that are "too fuel efficient"? (The answer is yes.)
Is it possible to create a person out of a collection of human parts? Would this be ethical? Would this person have a soul?
These are some of the issues in this series of books, but don't think it is all intellectual and philosophical. It is also a thrill-ride adventure and survival story.
UnDivided was supposed to be the final chapter in the series, but recently UnBound was published. It is actually a collection of short stories and novellas focusing on some of the characters other than Connor and Risa.
Neal Shusterman talks about where he got his ideas for the books.
Awards and Honors:
- 2008 ALA Best Books For Young Adults
- 2008 ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (Top Ten)
- ALA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
- New York Public Library "Books for the Teen Age"
- 2009-2010 Virginia Readers’ Choice Award Master List
- 2011 YALSA’s Popular Paperback Award List
If you are looking for more selections in dystopian fiction, you might try the following:
- Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
- Divergent series by Veronica Roth
- Matched series by Ally Condi
- The Books of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau
- Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Green Angel series by Alice Hoffman
- Article 5 series by Kristen Simmons
- Killer of Enemies series by Joseph Bruchac
- The Giver series by Lois Lowery
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Anthem by Ayn Rand
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand