Book Review: UnWholly by Neal Shusterman


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Title: UnWholly
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Unwind Dystology (Book 2)
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (October 15, 2013)
Language: English
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
ISBN-10: 1442423676
ISBN-13: 978-1442423671
Amazon Reviews: 4.7 Stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon:

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

So I have to admit something. When I read male YA authors, I can usually tell (John Green excepted). There’s just something about the way they write, and sometimes it feels like they aren’t as in touch with character’s feelings as female authors. Male authors can usually connect with anger and fear, but I often feel a disconnect when dealing with the other emotions. I fully accept this could be me, and not them, but I have found it a recurring theme. I certainly felt this way while reading UnWind, the first in the series. Maybe I’m getting used to Shusterman’s writing style, or maybe this book was different, or maybe I felt more invested in the characters this time around. Whatever the case, I didn’t have the same issue with UnWholly.

I don’t want to give away too much, but we still have the same set of main characters (Connor, Rissa, Lev), as well as a few other minor characters, and we also have one new character, Cam. I’ll try to be coy, but let’s just say Cam sealed the deal for me. I’d have enjoyed this book without him, but his story line had me hooked beyond the rest of the book.

Especially since we get the same plot around Connor that we had in the first book: Connor doesn’t want the responsibility of being a leader, but he is, and he is thwarted by another teen who wants power for himself. It just felt over done. It was Roland and Connor all over again, but slightly different. Starkey is this new antagonist character, and it felt like just another sub-plot. The novel could have been complete without him. I realize Shusterman has plans for him, and maybe I’ll change my mind when I read the next two books in the series, but for this book, he was just in the way of the story I really wanted to read.

Overall, this was a good read. I can’t wait to read the next two in the series as well as the novella. It explores deep subjects like abortion, mortality, morality, and every sub-topic surrounding those. This is a good way for teens to think about the ramifications and intricacies of these topics and I’m excited to see the series is being used in classrooms as educational material around the country. Not everyone is going to agree with the viewpoints, but I actually think Shusterman does a decent job of expressing ideas without getting preachy and allowing readers to form their own thoughts on the subjects.

My Review: 4/5 stars

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I have a problem . . .

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Despite the fact that I am reading THE SHADE OF THE MOON on my kindle (that orange thing on top), and that I want to re-read my childhood copy of THE HOBBIT, and I’ve never read LOTR which my son received for Christmas (not pictured), and he’s been bugging me to read the entire MAZE RUNNER series which he owns, (also not pictured), and I still have UNWHOLLY to read as well as a copy of COLD MOUNTAIN I picked up for a quarter at a garage sale (who can resist?), I still walked out of the library with THREE more books! And I only went in there for MAGIC TREEHOUSE books for Minion #3. I seriously have a problem. It’s like a disease!

Does anyone else have the fortitude to walk out of a library or bookstore empty-handed? I sure don’t.