UnStrung: an Unwind story
by Neal Shusterman and Michelle Knowlden

Lev started out as a tithe, excited to by unwound and exist in a divided state among many other people. Then, he became a clapper, a person so filled with rage that he volunteered to go through a process that literally made his blood explosive. All this takes place in Unwind… but we never got to see what caused such a drastic change.

We do now.

Lev has taken shelter on a reservation. The People of Chance never signed the Unwind Accord, so none of their people can be unwound. Equally important, they can never benefit from an unwound body part. The people take Lev in. A family makes a motion to adopt him. All is happy.

And then the parts pirates attack.  

UnStrung is an ebook novella that bridges the gap within Unwind. It’s about fifty pages long and focuses on this one character and his emotional journey. It is not a necessity to read this to understand either Unwind nor its sequel UnWholly, though it does fill in some gaps.

In my (old) review for Unwind, I noted that Lev’s journey seemed the most… forced. This novella attempts to rectify that weakness. I appreciated the added information; I wonder if Shusterman intended this information in the original volume, but saw that there was no need and so it became a bunch of “deleted scenes.” However, even after reading this, I have to say: Lev’s transformation still seems forced. Some of the steps are there, but they still appear half-formed to me. Either that, or there’s still another chapter to the story left untold.

That being said, this is still a good Shusterman story. I read UnWholly before reading this, and there were references to the novella throughout volume two of the trilogy. I had assumed I’d forgotten something from Unwind; nope! All the info’s here! Again, you don’t need to read “UnStrung” to understand the next volume of the trilogy, but reading this story will enhance the experience. One scene of UnWholly in particular gains a much deeper resonance with the scenes of this story.

If you love the Unwind universe, the story is indispensable. And really, no one would likely purchase this unless they happened to have already read at least one of the volumes. If Lev is your favorite character, you need to read through this novella.

For anyone else, simply because of its “deleted scene”-type origin, you can pass by without worrying much. Instead, go read Unwind, would you?


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