Unwind by Neal Shusterman Rash by Pete Hautman
Here I am, reading one of my favorite genres again, this time titles recommended by one of our amazing library volunteers, soon to be a librarian herself.
Unwind is the gripping story that follows Conner and two other “Unwinds” as they struggle to escape their fate as becoming human organ donors, used for every part of their bodies from their brains to the tips of their toes. After the world war fought by pro-life and pro-choice armies, the Bill of Life was signed, allowing unwanted teens to be unwound without actually ending their lives–they would become unwilling organ donors. Conor’s being unwound because he’s just too much trouble for his parents. Risa’s problem is that she’s a ward of the state, living in a StaHo, and they have to make room for more babies. In contrast, Lev has known since he was a child that as his parents’ tenth baby, he was destined to be tithed as an unwind, something that has always been viewed as a great honor in his religion. The books follows their story from their original escape to the Happy Jack Harvest Camp and beyond.
This gripping story kept me up at night reading with a flashlight in bed as my husband slept peacefully next to me. It is an amazing book I can’t recommend highly enough.
Rash, on the other hand, was a much for straightforward story, with fewer ethical complications. What I especially appreciated about this story was that it is a combination sports novel and dystopian commentary on our society, all at the same time! The year is 2076, and the United SAFER States of America has outlawed anything remotely hazardous, including most sports, verbal abuse, and even schoolyard fights. The problem for our main character Bo is that he has a terrible temper, probably inherited from his father who’s currently in prison for a road rage incident in ’73. Interesting, the prisons are run by conglomerates like McDonalds and Coca Cola, and the inmates are basically free labor in their enormous fast food factories.
When Bo gets the opportunity to enhance his meager living conditions by playing on the sadistic warden’s illegal football team, his natural athleticism forces him to jump at the chance. Although football has been outlawed in the USSA fro years, Warden Hammer played in college and still loves the brutal sport. Unfortunately, Hammer wants his team to win against the nearest prison’s team at any cost, and the situation gets complicated rather quickly. Add to this the killer Polar bears that live outside the frigid work camps and artificial intelligence program named Bork that has taken on a life of its own, and this novel moves along at a rapid clip.
In many ways this story reminds me of Holes by Louis Sacher, and fans of that book won’t be disappointed by Bo’s journey.