Thursday, 20 February 2014

'UnWholly' (Unwind Dystology, #2) by Neal Shusterman: A Book Review

That is possibly the creepiest book cover of all time. Just look at it. Brrrr. 

Well, I'll be honest. I wasn't really in the mood to read the sequel to Unwind, because the first book had sort of... disappointed me. But I still wanted to know what happens next in the revolution with Connor, Lev, Risa and the rest of the Unwinds. 
Surprisingly, this book was not a disappointment. At all.

Here's the plot summary, courtesy of

"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.
Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live."

Fear not if you haven't read Unwind, for this will be a spoiler-free review.

Connor and his band of Unwinds, or the self-proclaimed 'Whollies', are now learning to survive after the events of the Harvest camp revolt. Connor, now the leader of the Whollies, finds himself trapped in this life of responsibilities and revolution. 
Risa isn't in a very happy place, either. Connor no longer has time for her, and she feels helpless in her new 'situation'. 
As for Lev... ah, Lev! Hands down, my favourite character. He was interesting in the first book, but in this sequel he's a real delight! Made famous by the revolt, Lev is now a leader in his own ways - and he doesn't like it at all. 
In the first book, there was no justification for unwinding, but here we are given a (somewhat) valid reason for the procedure that paves the way for future sequels.  

One thing I loved - between chapters, as a form of 'break', we are shown advertisements and news reports for and against unwinding. Social media is a key component here, and I love that! Sometimes, after the report, a link is provided to access more information. And the links are actually valid. There's so much thought put into this story.

A variety of new characters are introduced in this book. Cam, the boy who technically doesn't live; Miracolina, a tithe who willingly wants to be unwound; Starkey, a 'Wholly' with a thirst for power; and Nelson, an ex-Juvie cop who is now an illegal parts pirate. At least half of the story is spent introducing us to these characters and setting up the premises for the ending. I didn't mind reading about them because I was intrigued by Cam, a medical monster, and Nelson, the very cop who had been ridiculed by Connor in the first book. Starkey seems like a repeat of Roland, the bad boy from the first book. But Miracolina (what kind of name is that? It sounds like a disease!) ... I liked and disliked her at the same time. I loved the fact that she wants to be free and independent, and I hated the fact that 'freedom' to her means unwinding. Her interactions with Lev are funny! It's been a while since I've read about 'love-hate' friendship in dystopian fiction, so this was very refreshing. 

Speaking of interactions, let's talk about my favourite quotes from UnWholly.

“So," says Lev, as casually as he can, "you wanna dance?" 
"Do you believe in the end of the world?" she responds. 
Lev shrugs. "I don't know. Why?" 
"Because the day after that is when I'll dance with you.” 

He only wishes there were something that would heal the scars in his mind, which he can still feel. He sees his mind now as an archipelago of islands that he labours to build bridges between - and while he's had great success engineering the most spectacular of bridges, he suspects there are some islands that he'll never reach.

“Milestone! This is a momentous occasion," Cam tells her cheerily. "It should be witnessed by a friend."
She throws him an icy gaze, and he does a verbal back pedal.
"Aaaand since no friends are present, I'll have to do.” 

Neal Shusterman's writing is breathtaking when it comes to action, adventure and suspense... however it does fall short when there's romance involved. I know this book isn't a love story, but I'd still like to know how - and when - a character falls for someone else. We are simply told that he or she likes the other person, but there's no real evidence of it in the book. 

There is one scene towards the end of the book which I found very revolting. Somewhat graphic, the gore was a little cringe-worthy, at least to me. So if you plan to read this book, be prepared. 
Like the first one, there's no real cliffhanger-ending in this sequel. Obviously, not all issues have been dealt with; the war is yet to be won, but there is no sudden revelation on the last page of the story. 

But since UnWholly turned out to be so much better than Unwind, you can bet I'm going to read Unsouled. I'm still recovering from the events of UnWholly, so I might take a break and read some contemporary fiction for a while.

I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for UnWholly.
I definitely recommend this series to all fans of dystopia or science fiction. So go ahead, read it, and tell me what you think in the comments below!

PS: Remember, kids - be good, and you won't be unwound. :)


  1. I also love the advertisements in between sections! They are so offensive and well done!

    1. Yeah! I think adding the advertisements was a stroke of genius on Shusterman's part... amazing! :)

  2. I would love to read this one! Thank you for a book review! It is so good to see someone write a book review, refreshing and intellectual :)
    Read my first attempts towards a book review :
    Added you via G+

    1. Haha, I have tons of book reviews! This blog is actually more Geekie than Chic. :P
      Will read yours, too. :)


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