Tuesday, December 3, 2013

UnSouled, Neal Shusterman

Title:  UnSouled
Author:  Neal Shusterman
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Year:  2013
Pages:  403
Genre:  Dystopian, Science Fiction
Themes:  Society, Freedom, Social Justice
Age Range:  8th Grade and Up

The third installment in the Unwind dystology continues the story of Connor, Lev, Risa, and Cam, the rewound boy.  Connor and Lev are once again on the run from Proactive Citizenry, the organization that is protecting the process of unwinding through propaganda and manipulation of the government.  Cam, one of Proactive Citizenry's greatest achievements, is on the run too.  Tired of being used by the organization for their own purposes, Cam decides to bring down the organization that created him to show Risa how he really feels about her.  Connor and Lev know that in order to get the answers they are looking for, and to stop unwinding forever, they need to track down a woman that Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history.  But will she be able to help them save the hundreds of thousands of teens who are in danger of being unwound?

UnSouled reads like what it is-a middle novel in a longer arc, where lots of things happen but very few things are resolved.   There are some interesting new developments, including a further exploration of the "storkers" and their leader, as well as the backstory to the unwinding process itself.  Something else that is the same-the sense of horror that the reader feels when the cruelty and inhumanity towards those who are destined to be unwound rears its ugly head.  What makes this book series all the more terrifying is how realistic some of the policies and propaganda that Proactive Citizenry puts out feels, given that this is a work of dystopian science fiction.  We may not yet have the ability to take apart people and use all of their tissue for medical procedure, but anyone who follows the way that certain groups within our society dehumanize other groups (the poor, immigrants, prisoners) can't help but notice some parallels between their world and ours.  I can't really see a future where we allow minors to be given over for unwinding, but there are certainly groups of "disposable" people in our world, people that no one makes a fuss over when they are the victims of violence-state sanctioned or otherwise.

I know that UnDivided, the last book in the series, is being finished practically as we speak.  I am definitely ready to see how the disparate threads of the narrative are wound together (pun intended) to resolve the story of freedom, equality, and ultimate humanity that Shusterman has created.