Unwind is a phenomenal YA science fiction thriller. Following the Heartland War (pro-life vs. pro-choice), unwinding has become the solution for parents with difficult teenagers. Don’t want your child anymore? State can’t afford all its orphans? Have them unwound. Their bodies are stripped for parts sold away to those who want them. Scientists and doctors have figured out how to do this without technically killing the Unwind. Their spirit or soul or life-force, whatever you want to call it, becomes spread out among all the people now sporting their pieces. 100% of each Unwind must be used by law. And no one over 18 can be unwound. So in this world, if you break an arm don’t bother to use a cast and wait for it to heal. If you can afford a brand new teenage arm, buy one.

The story follows escaped Unwinds Connor and Risa and Lev, the tithe they kidnap (uber religious families choose to have their 10th child unwound as a service to God, because true tithing means 10% of everything goes Upstairs). As the trio fight for their right to survive, betray each other, grow closer, and come very close to the heart of the unwinding world, readers are brought along on the riveting journey. This is a creepy, smart, and sharp story about a future where parental responsibility and humanity itself has been surrendered to the big business of organ harvesting (and eye, arm, brain harvesting). As one character says, “If more people had been organ donors, unwinding never would have happened…but people like to keep what’s theirs, even after they’re dead.” (pg. 224). It raises the kinds of moral, ethical, legal, societal questions that teenagers thirst for while they figure out what they believe in without being heavy handed with a particular message. Shusterman just presents an image of the future based on a lot of the things we fight over today. It’s a must have for any teen collection.