Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review of The Unwind Dystology, Book Three: UnSouled by Neal Shusterman

Well, my husband and I finally made the move to Ann Arbor for his graduate school. And I have to say, it is beautiful here in the summer! I really like it a lot. Our trailer was packed to the MAX! Seriously, I don't think we could have fit another sock in there if we had wanted to. 

We barely got the door closed. But I was able to keep all of my books! Yay! I think it almost drove my husband crazy trying to get all of the boxes in that trailer, but they look fantastic in our new apartment, if I do say so myself! 

But enough about me. Before we left, I finished the book UnSouled by Neal Shusterman, and below is my review.
Title: UnSouled
AuthorNeal Shusterman
Pages: 404
Publication Date: Oct. 15, 2013
Source: Purchased myself

Quick Summary
Conner, Lev, and Risa live in a futuristic America where unwinding is their entire reality. In their past, there was a war over abortion which left the country torn, broken, and looking for answers. Those answers were provided by Proactive Citizenry, an organization that created the technology that made unwinding possible. Unwinding is taking a person completely apart, piece by piece, and keeping all of their usable tissue "alive" by giving it to other people who need it. The government decided that teens between the age of 13 and 17 were allowed to be unwound as long as their parents consented. This dealt with the country's teenage rebellion problem and was used as a compromise to make abortion illegal. At first, it led to great medical advancements, but then it turned ugly. People began getting unwound parts for vanity's sake or would get neural weaves to learn new skills or information. And teens were hunted and taken to harvest camps to be unwound. 

Connor, Lev, and Risa have been running from the government, parts pirates, and everyone else since their unwind orders were signed. In book three, they begin to look for a way to fight back and take down Proactive Citizenry, who has just created a new technology to "rewind" people. The company created Cam, a person made completely from unwound kids. They gave him life, but he wrestles with his identity. Is he human? Or is he just property, a lab experiment? All of their paths cross as they become unlikely allies in this epic third book in the Unwind Dystology! 

First a few comments...
Okay, the first thing I'd like to say is: Holy crap! That cover is creepy
Now, the cover is not the reason I picked up the book (I generally try to avoid things that might give me nightmares later), but the first two books in this series were SO good that I had to read the third one to find out what happened to the characters. So I mustered up some courage, bought the book, took off the dust jacket, and sunk into the world of the Unwind Dystology. 

You may be asking yourself: What is a dystology? How many books is that? 
Well, the author made it up. It's not a real word. It seems to me to be a play on the words "trilogy" and "dystopia"; however, after having read UnSouled I can definitely tell you a dystology doesn't stop at three books. This was not the end of the story. So maybe Neal Shusterman was leaning on the idea of a disrupted or broken trilogy... meaning not actually a trilogy but a word that sounds more edgy and unique and allows for as many books as he wants. My guess is that he got into writing UnSouled and realized he would need another book to finish the series, hence the made up word. It makes it sound more official and intentional. And has the added bonus of not pissing off all of the fans of the series who were expecting it to be three books in total. Honestly, it's a pretty creative solution to this problem. 

My Thoughts
On to my thoughts about the book itself! I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Admittedly, I haven't read anything by Neal Shusterman outside of this dystology, but based on this series I think the man is a genius. 

My first reason for liking Shusterman is that he brings his characters to life in a way that is often missed in YA lit. They are relatable, but not flat or generic. They are realistic and deal with their problems and backstories in very real and human ways. Connor, Risa, and Lev are the three main characters that we follow throughout the story - each chapter showing pieces from their different points of view. This close third person limited point of view really brings out the personal emotions of the main characters and what they each deal with internally. Knowing their thoughts and the motivations for their actions makes you sympathize with them, even if you don't always agree with what they are doing. This is a hard skill to achieve in literature. 

The second reason that Shusterman stands out in this series is that mixed throughout the novels are chapters and snippets from random side characters' points of view, including the "bad guys", and the media. I love that Shusterman incorporates propaganda and advertising into his story. We forget how much we are taken in by the media and how much of our information and opinions come from what propaganda tells us to think. It adds a whole new dimension to his books and brings the political commentary in the novels to the surface. He questions our society today by looking at one possible, yet fictional, future. He deals with the ideas of abortion, abandonment, abuse, adoption, big businesses in politics, corrupt government, Native American tribes and their roles in society, black market organs, stem cell research, medical advancements and the ethics involved, the public education system, what constitutes human life, leadership, group dynamics, fashion trends, mental disabilities, teenage rebellion and independence, religion, government coverups, and the role that advertising and propaganda play in and amongst all of it. This could be an amazing series to study at a higher level (college, grad school, etc.) because there is so much material to work with. I could go on and on, but I'm trying not to turn this blog post into a dissertation! 

The third reason I am a fan of Shusterman is that this is the third book in the series (with more to come), and I'm still hooked. There are a lot of authors, especially in YA lit, that lose you around book two or three. I love that Unwind, the first book, could have stood alone. I didn't even know it was a series until I randomly found the second one at Barnes and Noble. It is hard to turn a stand alone novel into a series without making it feel forced. But Shusterman pulls it off. This book is intriguing and compelling. It really makes you question and think about what you believe about so many different subjects but doesn't lose you in the political mumbo jumbo. 

Overall, I highly recommend this series and definitely this book, even with its creepy cover! 

Overall, I give this book a 5 out of 5 hearts. 
Absolutely loved it! 

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