"Discover 'Unwind,' Neal Shusterman's gripping dystopian novel. Explore a thought-provoking world of moral dilemmas and societal choices in this young adult classic."
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Neal Shusterman’s “Unwind” is a dystopian novel that explores a chilling and thought-provoking future where society has found a horrifying solution to the problem of unwanted teenagers. Published in 2007, this young adult novel has garnered significant attention for its gripping narrative and its exploration of complex moral and ethical dilemmas. In this article, we will delve into the world of “Unwind,” providing a summary, examining critical reviews, highlighting memorable quotes, and answering frequently asked questions about this compelling work.


“Unwind” is set in a future society where parents have the legal option to “unwind” their teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18. Unwinding is the process of harvesting 100% of a teenager’s organs and body parts for transplantation, thus keeping them technically alive but in pieces. The government and society rationalize this practice as a solution to the problem of unwanted or troublesome teenagers while still claiming to value the sanctity of life.

The story follows three main characters: Connor Lassiter, a defiant teenager scheduled for unwinding against his will; Risa Ward, a ward of the state with no legal guardians, also destined for unwinding; and Lev Calder, a tithe, a child born and raised to be unwound as a religious sacrifice. These three unlikely allies cross paths and embark on a harrowing journey to escape the grim fate of unwinding.

As the narrative unfolds, readers are introduced to the harsh reality of a society that has dehumanized its youth. Shusterman skillfully explores the ethical implications of such a world, challenging readers to ponder questions about the value of life, individuality, and the consequences of societal choices.


“Unwind” has received critical acclaim for its thought-provoking themes, character development, and gripping storytelling.

The New York Times praised the novel for its “riveting” portrayal of a dystopian future and its exploration of “moral and ethical quandaries” that resonate with readers of all ages.

Publishers Weekly called “Unwind” a “powerful and provocative” novel, lauding Shusterman’s ability to create relatable characters who grapple with the moral dilemmas of their world.

School Library Journal commended the book’s “compelling narrative” and “complex characters,” emphasizing its relevance in sparking discussions about bioethics and the value of life.

Goodreads users have given “Unwind” an average rating of 4.18 out of 5, with many praising its ability to keep readers on the edge of their seats while addressing important societal issues.


Neal Shusterman’s “Unwind” is filled with thought-provoking quotes that capture the essence of its dystopian world and the moral dilemmas faced by its characters.

“A parent’s love for their child is unconditional, but a child’s love for their parents is not. It’s got to be earned.” – Neal Shusterman, Unwind
This quote highlights the complex relationships between parents and teenagers in a world where unwinding is an option.

“You can’t change laws without first changing human nature.” – Neal Shusterman, Unwind
Shusterman emphasizes the deep-seated issues that contribute to the disturbing society portrayed in the novel.

“When you’ve got enough people looking out for your well-being, all you really need is a simple, clear answer for what you’re doing, and the belief that what you’re doing is right.” – Neal Shusterman, Unwind
This quote reflects the characters’ struggle to justify their actions and the power of belief in a society that demands conformity.

“A society that kills its own children is a society without hope.” – Neal Shusterman, Unwind
This poignant statement underscores the grim consequences of a society that values convenience over compassion.


Q : What inspired Neal Shusterman to write “Unwind”?
A : Neal Shusterman has stated that the idea for “Unwind” came to him after watching a news story about a politician discussing organ donation. This sparked his imagination and led him to explore the ethical and moral implications of a world where organ harvesting is taken to a disturbing extreme.

Q : Is “Unwind” suitable for young adult readers?
A : “Unwind” is indeed categorized as a young adult novel, but its themes and content can be quite dark and mature. While it can be an excellent choice for older teenagers, parents and educators should consider the individual maturity of readers before recommending it to younger audiences.

Neal Shusterman’s “Unwind” is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that delves into a disturbing dystopian world where the value of life is questioned and ethical dilemmas abound. With its compelling narrative, complex characters, and challenging themes, “Unwind” has earned its place as a thought-provoking work of young adult literature that continues to captivate readers and spark discussions about the moral fabric of society.