Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I have to admit, I’ve tried to blog about this book on three different days. Each time I sit down to write it up, I start typing and four hours later, I have my PhD. dissertation. No kidding! So, here’s how I’ve whittled it all down.

Shusterman does a wonderful job of creating a world that is not so far from our own. It is a near future that could also be the present, save for the mention of ANTIQUE i pods and such. It is impressive that the stories of Connor, Risa, and Lev don’t get lost in the high-tech future world, as in so many future books.

The book’s premise is that a compromise between the pro-life and pro-choice camps is reached by the instatement of the Bill of Life. The instatement means people can’t have abortions, but when a child is between the ages of 13 and 18, the parent can have the child “unwound” and the medical community will use the child’s organs to save others. The idea being that the child is not dead, but alive in the “divided state.”

The idea of a divided state seems outrageous (in the sense that one might wish to shake the lawmakers), but is even more outrageous when it is confided that the Bill of Life came from a sarcastic remark meant to make the sides see how ridiculous they were acting. I have to applaud the author for his irony here.

The plot of the story seems almost effortless as it ebbs and flows in just the right places, giving readers a breath before the next sprint for life. Shusterman often gives his readers the luxury of hope for the runaways, then pulls them back into a fight for their lives. There are also some very clever literary devices employed in the story, and the author executes them well.

Lev, the most interesting character, believes at the beginning of the book that he is better than the rest of the unwinds because he is a tithing (a religious gift of sorts) and has been slated to be unwound before birth. At the beginning of the book Lev wears all white, but as he is forced to do different things to survive, he sheds his white clothing and delves into the darkness of his brain. However, at the end, Lev finds himself suspended in the air on a cross and wrapped in layers of gauze—an amusing use of a literary device. Lev has come full circle.

I was engulfed in this novel and read it straight through. The only part that I found distracting was when Shusterman lost track of his own characters. When the Connor, Risa, and Lev are on the bus to school and meet the girl with the baby, she introduces the baby as Chase, and says Chase’s father, Chaz, is away at military school. Later, when Risa and Connor are fleeing the school they run into the girl again. Shusterman writes that CHAZ is chewing on the girl’s shoulder. This is impossible because Chaz is at military school, and I doubt the girl would be carrying her own boyfriend. Yes, I was THAT into the book!

Rating: 5 Pages

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