Woow. This was one of those really different books that you come across once in a while—and I mean that in the best possible way. Once again recommended by my awesome best friend, it wasn't immediately appealing to me but I quickly got into it (no kidding- last night I was busted at midnight—technically one AM with Spring Forward— for trying to finish it. It's that good!). It's unconventional but utterly captivating, and is perfect for both guys and girls from late middle school to high school (um, unless you only go for books with happy-fluffy themes and perfect happy endings. In that case, I proclaim you Utterly Boring). Anyway, keep an open mind as I tell you about Unwind by Neal Shusterman.
Unwind is futuristic, set in a time after the Second Civil War. The war was a long and intense battle fought over abortion, setting the pro-choice forces against the pro-life forces. The Bill of Life was proposed and passed in order to satisfy both parties. It stated that human life was untouchable until the age of thirteen, but when a child was thirteen to eighteen they could be "aborted"—on the condition that their life wouldn't "technically" end. The process was called Unwinding, and it kept every part of the child alive except, well, in different places. (Think of organ donors, just more sinister). Over time Unwinding became a common and accepted practice in society.
The story follows three teens. Connor, sixteen, grew up in a somewhat normal family, but he has temper problems and a knack for troublemaking that drove his parents to signing the Unwinding order. Risa is a street-smart orphan who grew up in a State Home, and is being unwound to cut costs. Lev, thirteen, is the youngest of ten children and lives in a very religious family. He's a tithe, someone who has been raised to be unwound their whole lives. All three get haphazardly thrown together on a blocked highway, and Connor and Risa band together to escape and drag Lev along with them. What comes next is a twisting and turning series of events involving unlikely helpers, unlikely betrayers, a ghost story, a true story, and three teens who will never be the same again.
You need to read it. Yes, I'm looking at you. It's completely worth your while. The book is dark, twisted, heartbreaking, and sweet. Unexpected events make you second-guess your ideas of the characters. Neal Shusterman has that JK Rowling-esque trait of interweaving every tiny character, event, and encounter and giving dimension to everything he writes. I could not recommend this book more. Find it at Kettleson or Mt. Edgecumbe!