Oh man, oh man, oh man. UnSouled, the third book in Neal Shusterman’s dystopian YA Unwind “Dystology”, is a totally cray adventure that you absolutely NEED to read. (Book review-y spoilers ahead.)
Because of the mysterious Heartland War, a war that no one ever talks about because its details have been basically erased from history (which is like totally messed up), abortion is no longer a touchy subject in the future United States of America. Instead, unruly teens can be “unwound” if their parents are that terrible at parenting, but in this novel, the unwind culture that was introduced in Book One, Unwind, basically takes over the world—unwinding unruly teens, unwinding criminals, unwinding people just because they want money.
What is unwinding, you ask? It’s when a person—a real-life human being—is DISSASSEMBLED COMPLETELY AND THEN THEIR PARTS ARE REDISTRIBUTED TO ANYONE WHO NEEDS A SPECIFIC BODY PART. But it’s totally moral and ethical and okay though, because the Unwinds aren’t dead, they’re just living in a BS ‘DIVIDED STATE’. Have a bad liver? Unwinding can fix that! Lost an arm because society is that chaotic? Unwinding can fix that! Want to learn how to play the violin but too lazy to actually take the time to learn? Unwinding can fix that!
Shusterman does an AMAZING job at creating this world. Not only does he deftly weave in information that’s relevant to the plot, like ads promoting unwinding between scenes to give the reader (i.e. you) a greater sense of how this world works, but he also weaves in creative details that complete your picture of this world (THE AGAVE PLANT HAS GONE EXTINCT! IT’S A TRAVESTY!) even if they’re not necessarily that important to the plot.
But it’s not just the world building that’s incredible. The story and characters themselves are just awesomely awesome. Connor Lassiter, the Akron AWOL, and Lev Garrity, the “clapper who didn’t clap” (clapper’s are terrorists that EXPLODE THEMSELVES BY INJECTING CHEMICALS IN THEIR BLOODSTREAM AND THEN CLAPPING—CRAZY), begin the story with a mission to find Sonia Rheinschild, one-half of the team responsible for unwinding, who, along with the details of the Heartland War, was ERASED FROM HISTORY.
But at the same time, Mason Starkey, a “stork” who’s raised himself a stork army, is hell-bent on fueling his ego by COMPLETELY DESTROYING Unwind Harvest Camps and liberating those feral teens set to be unwound.
But ALSO AT THE SAME TIME, Camus Comprix, a REWOUND MAYBE-HUMAN BEING WHO’S BEEN CREATED WITH 99 PARTS FROM 99 DIFFERENT UNWINDS, is on a mission to take down the people who’ve created him, the “Proactive Citizenry”, in an attempt to win the love of Risa Ward, another AWOL who was blackmailed into SUPPORTING UNWINDING but then escaped to find Connor.
And then, in addition to all of this amazing amazingness, Shusterman fills this crazy-train with deep philosophical ideals, questioning what it means to Exist and how to deal with two separate worlds colliding and how to change a way of life that’s set in its ways but also totally wrong. Like, what the heck? How can anyone make a story this fascinating?
The whole book is one huge adventure bus around the U.S.A. that you’re definitely gonna want to hop on. Of course, you’ve gotta start with the first book, Unwind, and then read the second one, Unwholly, but then you should totally read this.
Five out of five stars.