book thoughts: Unwind by Neal Schusterman (2007)

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Neal Shusterman

After the Heartland war, a decision was made – abortion would become illegal.  BUT when a child is between the ages of 13-18, they are eligible to be Unwound – a procedure that takes every part of the child and allows it to be distributed to someone in need.  So the child is technically still living.  Just not as a single human.

That is the main plot of Neil Shusterman’s disturbing YA novel Unwind. Like Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, this book takes an issue and does what all good sci-fi should do – takes it to an extreme.  It doesn’t beat you over the head with what is right or wrong, but it does get you caught up in a story, with characters, but at the same time, your brain begins to think about the deeper themes and questions behind the story.

In Unwind, three teens runaway while on their way to the unwinding facility – Connor, whose parents scheduled him to be unwound after some bad behavior in school, runs away the night before.  Risa, an orphan, was scheduled by the state after they realized they could not afford another mouth to feed.  And Lev, a tithe, a sacrifice that is family had decided to make before he was born, raised knowing that he would be unwound.  Fate throws these three together and the book is the story of their adventure through this future world.

Unwind sucks you in from page 1 and doesn’t let go until its over. It is an intense story, and I found myself needing to put the book down and walk away for a bit.  But it is the kind of book you want to read with your friends because you’re going to want to discuss it.  Schusterman is careful not to preach  any sort of agenda – he is just playing with a scenario that feels all too plausible in a twisted way. 

If you’re in the mood for some well written science fiction that has a good blend of action, suspense, and pseudo-science, pick up this book!

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book thoughts: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2009)

Earlier this year, I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and I loved it.  I’m talking 5 out of 5 stars, must tell everyone I know about this book LOVED it.  It had everything I wanted in a story – action, adventure, kick-ass heroine, well-developed side characters, and a hint of relationship stuff (but not so much that I started to gag). 

Last month, the sequel was released – Catching Fire.

I am not going to post any spoilers because the thing that made reading Hunger Games and Catching Fire so great was how little I knew about them before I started.  But let’s just say that Catching Fire has everything Hunger Games had, but kicked up a notch.  It picks up right where we left off… 

That being said, I give Catching Fire 4 out of 5 stars because of the usual reasons with middle books – this book is more about setting things up for the grand finale than anything else so the ending is a lot rougher than Hunger Games, which felt like the first Star Wars movie – yeah, there was more to do, but it had a satisfying ending for the biggest story. 

With Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins knows that she owns us, that we are invested in these characters, and that we’ll be expecting that cliffhanger.  And she gives it to us.  I read the last page several times, trying to figure out exactly what it all meant because I know I have another year before I found out what happens. 

Seriously, why are you reading this post?  You should be reading Hunger Games or Catching Fire RIGHT NOW! 

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