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You see, a conflict always begins with an issue – a difference of opinion, an argument. But by the time it turns into a war, the issue doesn’t matter anymore, because now it’s about one thing and one thing only: how much each side hates the other.

The Second Civil War was fought between the Pro-Life and the Pro-Choice. In the end, both sides were satisfied, but neither won. The Bill of Life was created, stating that “human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen .”

Wait, what?

…between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively “abort” a child on the condition that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end.

“Unwinding” is what that process is called. When a child is unwound, every part – organs, hair, teeth, everything – is taken for transplants.

Unwind is the story of three such children – Connor, Risa, and Lev – and their fight to survive against the system that tries so hard to get rid of them.

Lev is a tithe. He comes from a devoutly religious family that has planned to unwind him his entire life. As a tithe, he’s grown up believing that he’s somehow special, somehow different from everybody else. Risa is a ward of the state, send to be unwound because of budget cuts. Risa is a talented pianist, but not talented enough to be permitted to live. Connor is a troubled teen. He’s gotten in a few fights and his parents just don’t know what to do with him anymore. Instead of trying to figure out how to help him, they sign the order to unwind him.

When Connor realizes that he’s going to be unwound, he runs away from home. In running away, he inadvertently causes a bus crash that helps Risa escape, and then grabs Lev out of the car that’s leading him to his own unwinding. The three of them have several misadventures while trying to avoid being arrested by the Juvey-cops who seek out AWOL unwinds.

I had a lot of trouble getting into this book. Something about the writing style threw me off, and I didn’t like that the perspective changed so frequently.

I also struggled with the premise. I can’t understand how the Bill of Life was accepted by either side. Abortion is prohibited, but it’s okay to kill teenagers? Even if they’re not “technically” dead (which, yes, they are), how is it socially acceptable to sentence your kid to unwinding just because you don’t like their choices? What kind of parents think, “Hey, Connor punched a kid again. Instead of talking to him about it, I think I’ll get rid of him.” I mean, seriously. How did this become socially acceptable? How is this legally acceptable? How did the Pro-Life side accept this? How did the Pro-Choice side accept this?

I did like Connor and Risa. I was more or less indifferent to Lev throughout. Connor grew to be a great leader, and I liked how Risa was able to help him channel his anger into survival skills. Risa was pretty great since she was able to adapt to every situation they got themselves into. It was nice to see a heroine who isn’t dependent on a boyfriend to get through tough times.

All in all, there was a lot going on in Unwind. I could go for some of it. Other parts just didn’t work for me. I’d give two stars for the beginning and four stars for the end, so it’ll even out to three. I wouldn’t consider Unwind to be a waste of my time, but I likely won’t be reading any of the books that follow it.

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