by Neal Shusterman
One year after the events of Unwind, teens are still hunted… and even more than they were before. A new Cap-17 law makes it illegal to unwind teens eighteen years old, making transplant parts rarer. Several groups have begun a media blitz unfolding the benefits of unwinding. Add to this parts pirates who will hunt down teens and deliver them to the black market.
The cast of the first book have moved on, doing what they can to help those marked for unwinding find safety. A new tithe reminds Lev of the child he once was. A disgruntled teen makes plans to rebel against Connor’s leadership in the Graveyard, the safest place for runaways. And a mysterious group has created a monster: a teen made entirely of the best pieces of unwound children around the nation. And this “rewind” has decided he wants Risa as his companion.
Shusterman’s second volume in the Unwind Trilogy presents a far less focused look at this frightening dystopia. Rather than center the action on three unwinds as they move through the world, this novel opens up the scope and examines the world at large. Shusterman usually hits the ground running; I found this book spent far more time on set-up. Now, it’s Shusterman, so the set-up is well done and needed. However, it’s not the “instant action and tension” that Shusterman usually brings to the table.
This book didn’t grab me the way Unwind did. The characters are good, possibly even better drawn than they were in the first volume. I think what got me is the less focused plot. However, by the time we approached the climax of the novel, I couldn’t stop reading.
I greatly enjoyed the book’s focus not as much on unwinding as the effects that unwinding had on the world. We get to see much more of “the other side” than the first book portrayed. We also learn far more of the history of this world, which I suspect will greatly inform the action of the next volume.
However, I also felt far less danger than the first book. In Unwind, the characters were always on the edge of destruction. That constant tension kept me reading. Here, the main characters are certainly in danger, but it doesn’t hang over the reader at quite the same level.
I felt that most of this volume served as set-up for book three. This “trilogy” is really more of a stand-alone novel in Unwind (which was never intended to be a trilogy) and then a duology. The set-up is driving, and I am eager to read the conclusion. If you loved Unwind, this book is a no-brainer to pick up. It is excellent, but not quite at the same level as book one. I suspect, though, that all this will serve to make the conclusion so much more satisfying.
Check it out. And if you haven’t read Unwind yet, good heavens, what are you waiting for?!