Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: UnStrung – Neal Shusterman & Michelle Knowlden


UnStrung – Neal Shusterman & Michelle Knowlden


How did Lev Calder move from an unwillingly escaped Tithe to a clapper? 
In this new ebook original short story, author Neal Shusterman opens a window on Lev's adventures between the time he left CyFi and when he showed up at the Graveyard. 
Lev's experiences on a Hi-Rez, an extraordinarily wealthy Native American Reservation, introduce him to a teen with remarkable musical talent . . . and whose gifts are destined to end up in the hands of another. And it is this teen's heart-breaking story that inspired Lev to choose the clapper's path.


This is a review for book #1.5 in a series. The review is as spoiler-free as I can make it, but you might want to check out my reviews of books #1, #2, #3, and #4.



Review: I was slightly disappointed in this novelette. It didn’t deliver what I’d hoped it would. Maybe I would have been more impressed with this story if I had read the series in order, but I’m a rebel and didn’t do that. I read UnStrung after finishing the fourth book.

UnStrung fills in some of the gaps in the Unwind series. Before thirteen-year-old Lev arrives in the airplane graveyard in book #1, he spends some time on a “ChanceFolk Rez.” In book #3 of the series, the reader learns that a musical prodigy was kidnapped by parts pirates while Lev was on the Rez. Lev got the blame for the kidnapping. This story explains what happened with Lev and the musical prodigy.

Like all of the books in this series, UnStrung is a quick and entertaining read. It only took me about an hour to finish this novelette. Even though I knew exactly how the story would end, I read the whole thing without putting it down because the Unwind universe is so interesting. I’d probably read anything set in this world.

My biggest issue with this story is that the synopsis is misleading. It says, “How did Lev Calder move from an unwillingly escaped Tithe to a clapper?” Unfortunately, the story doesn’t answer that question at all. It doesn’t explain how a thirteen-year-old became involved with terrorists. The story fills in some plot gaps in the series, but it doesn’t do anything else. The other books did a fine job of showing why Lev became a suicide bomber. This story doesn’t add anything to the explanation.

Lev’s character seems “off” in UnStrung. This could possibly be because the author was working with a cowriter. The other books in the series show that Lev became a suicide bomber because he feels exhausted, hopeless, angry, and powerless. None of those emotions are present in this book. If this story is meant to explain Lev’s decision to (potentially) blow himself up, then shouldn’t those emotions be there? Lev’s character seems shallower and more passive than he does in the other books.

I also had a hard time with the end of the story. In book #3, the people on the Rez are angry at Lev for the kidnapping, but this story shows that Lev didn’t have anything to do with it. And, why didn’t the people on the Rez try to rescue the kidnapped kid? Did I miss something? Shouldn’t there at least have been a search party? The kidnappers were on foot when they took the kid, so could the kidnappers have been intercepted before they got to a road? I have so many questions!

If you like this series as much as I do, then this story is an entertaining gap-filler, but I wouldn’t call it a must-read. 







8 comments:

  1. That's too bad! I know that Unwind is a really poplar and well-written series.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. I’ve read the whole series and love the other books. This one is just kind of “Meh.”

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I would be annoyed if the question asked in the blurb wasn't answered!! Glad it was still entertaining!

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    1. I know! I was irritated because it didn’t give me the answers I wanted. Maybe I should have had different expectations.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. I looked into this series because of your post. :) It has now been added to my TBR list! :)

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  4. I tend to avoid novellas. I haven't read one I found worthy of my time. I'm sorry this one was disappointing but the series itself is doing well. I read book one but just never picked up the rest. Now, I just might!

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    1. I don’t read a lot of series, so this is the first companion novella I’ve ever read. Maybe my expectations were too high?

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete

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