UnWholly – Neal Shusterman
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 simultaneously 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.
This is a review for book #2 in a series. The review is as spoiler-free as I could possibly make it, but I suggest you check out my review of book #1.
Review: So . . . I stayed up all night to finish this book. I was completely useless the next day, but I regret nothing. That ending is awesome.
UnWholly picks up about a year after where Unwind left off. Connor, Lev, and Risa have gotten the world to pay attention to unwinding, but now they don’t know who to trust. Some people want to help them; others just want to collect the bounty on their heads. No place—not even the airplane graveyard in the Arizona desert—is safe. This book introduces three new characters. Starkey is a teen who’s obsessed with becoming just as famous as Connor. Miracolina wants to be unwound. And Cam . . . is a human made entirely from the body parts of other humans.
One of my biggest issues with the first book is that I didn’t buy unwinding. It doesn’t seem like a practical solution to any problem. This book adds enough worldbuilding that unwinding becomes slightly more believable. The story shows how this futuristic society is collapsing and the fear that people have of “feral” teens. Unwinding is big business in this world. Greedy medical companies are trying to make unwinding bigger, better, and more necessary. I really appreciate the worldbuilding because I felt like it was lacking in the first book. The new worldbuilding also takes some of the focus off of the abortion debate, which could be good or bad, depending on how you feel about the abortion stuff in the first book.
“The sad truth about humanity . . . is that people believe what they're told. Maybe not the first time, but by the hundredth time, the craziest of ideas just becomes a given.” - UnWholly
We need to talk about Cam. After I finished the first book, I started wondering if it was possible to use unwinding technology to build a whole new person. I wasn’t surprised when that’s exactly what happens in this book. I was (weirdly) hoping it would happen. Cam is the character I wanted. He’s fascinating. He’s super-naïve and super-intelligent at the same time. His brain is made up of pieces of other people’s brains, so he has an interesting way of thinking. What’s even better is that he encourages the reader to think. What, exactly, is a human? Is it possible to be more than one human at the same time? If Cam was created instead of born, is he property? How ethical/necessary is it to improve the human body?
Cam replaced Lev as my favorite character in this series. I still feel bad for Lev because he’s so young and has had to put up with so much crap, but Cam is what makes me want to read the next book.
I’m going to continue with this series, but I didn’t like this book quite as much as the first one. Compared to Unwind, UnWholly starts off very slowly. It took me a while to get into it. Also, UnWholly feels like a recycled version of Unwind. Actually, “recycled” is probably the wrong word. Let’s say that Unwind was unwound and then rewound into UnWholly. Some of the new characters are very similar to the old ones. Miracolina is the new Lev. Starkey is the new Roland. The characters are still dealing with the same problems as in the first book. This book doesn’t feel as original as the first one.
Despite the “rewinding” issues, I’m eager to continue with the series. I want to know what happens next.