Today I will be meeting with a couple of my colleagues for our book club that one of the teachers at my school started this year. This was the first book club where I was able to choose the book, and I decided to show Amazon information sheets about a variety of books I wanted to read from a range of genres and age ranges, including The Help, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Unaccustomed Earth. I remember I had another YA dystopian novel in there, but I can't remember which. Out of the set, my colleagues were most intrigued by Neal Shusterman's Unwind. It's not hard to see why, as the book talk that a guest librarian gave about it to my YA Lit class last summer stuck with me throughout the school year.
Dystopian novels always have elements that are disturbing, but this one was especially high on that scale the further into the book I read. The premise of the book is that the country fought another war to determine whether or not abortion should be legal. Neither side won per se, but they did come to an agreement. Abortion was illegal but with scientific advances parents could decide whether or not to unwind their children once they reached a specific age range, most of their teenage years, which entails harvesting all the unwind's body parts to donate to other people. The society rationalized it saying that they were not killing people, as they continued to live on in a divided state.
Needless to say this decision had a domino effect of impacts on society, and many layers are revealed throughout the book. Told from third person point of view, the novel alternates between focal characters or groups in its chapters. There was a lot going on, so it was necessary to think of the whole picture and all the little details, many of which ended up having significant importance as the book progressed, even when they seemed less important at their initial mention. Characters' stories merged together and branched off on their own in various cycles. Some perspectives were only mentioned once, while others came up frequently throughout the novel.
There is so much I want to say about this book; yet, I don't want to go too far into it since it would spoil certain aspects. The various layers are entrenched in the culture as well as the interwoven nature of the stories that it is hard to talk about aspects and scenes that evoked strong emotions without providing more details about the society and context. One thing is for sure, this book will provide ample avenues for discussion today! I am glad that it is one that I will get to discuss with others who have already finished it so that I can share my thoughts without spoiling anything, and I can't wait to hear what they thought of the book as well.
The guest librarian at my class last summer highly recommended all Shusterman novels. Eventually I would like to read more, and it seems like he has a wide range of choices.
For July we will be reading another YA book, Ender's Game. In August we are planning on moving on to a classic.