Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: UnSouled – Neal Shusterman

UnSouled – Neal Shusterman

Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever. 
Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human. 
With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively—and everyone will be changed.

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

Review: Am I the only one who thinks that the covers of this series are terrible? The books are wickedly entertaining, but the covers are just . . . ick.

Anyway, in UnSouled, the characters’ sanctuary is destroyed, and they are once again separated and on the run. They know that an organization called Proactive Citizenry is the major driving force behind unwinding, but they aren’t exactly sure what this organization does or who controls it. As Connor, Lev, and Risa work to bring down the organization from the outside, they come face-to-face with Cam, who is trying to bring it down from the inside. But, can Cam be trusted? Meanwhile, Starkey and his band of teenagers are waging a terroristic war on unwinding camps around the country, but is Starkey helping the cause or hurting it?

I liked this book more than the second one but less than the first one. That seems to be an unpopular opinion because a lot of people say that this book is their least favorite. I feel like UnSouled moves the story forward and develops the characters a lot more than UnWholly. Most of the main characters are becoming less impulsive and less naïve. They’re learning to harness their anger and turn it into something productive.

“Cowards hide . . . but warriors lie and wait . . . the only difference is whether you're motivated by fear or purpose.” - UnSouled

Cam, the “rewound” boy, is the wildcard in this book. The reader can never be sure what he will do (or what Proactive Citizenry will do to him). I feel bad for Cam. He’s still trying to figure out what he is, why he exists, and whether or not he should exist. He’s being bought and sold like property and doesn’t have much say in what happens to him. I love that his defiant, snarky nature comes out in this book. He’s a troubled teen who’s made from bits of other troubled teens, so you know that this whole Cam situation is going to end badly for someone.

My favorite parts of the book are the arguments between Connor and Cam. Both characters are so intelligent that their fights are hilarious. Neal Shusterman can definitely write some awesome dialogue:

“‘Talking about someone in the third person is rude,’ Cam tells her coolly. 
“‘Really?’ says Connor. ‘When you're a hundred people, wouldn't third person be a compliment?’” - UnSouled

I’m going to read the next book in the series, but there are a few things that I didn’t like about this one. First, typos. My copy of the book has enough typos that I got distracted. Whenever I find a typo in a book, I sit there and stare at it because I’m neurotic and think I can make it go away by glaring angrily.

The next thing is probably my fault: I didn’t read book #1.5. I actually didn’t know that there was a book 1.5 until I was partway through book #3. It turns out that 1.5 is kind of important. I wasn’t confused while reading UnSouled because the author does a nice job of bringing the reader up to speed, but I still feel like I missed a pretty large chunk of the story.

My biggest complaint about this book is Risa. The rabid fans of this series on Goodreads seem to love her, but I don’t get her at all. At this point in the series, she has several boys in love with her. Both whole boys and pieces of boys. (I’m counting the boy-brain-bits that make up Cam as “boys.”) I know that this book wouldn’t be a YA dystopia without an old-fashioned love triangle (or love mob?), but I don’t get the appeal of Risa. I think she’s the least-developed of the main characters. She’s kind of a nonentity in the series so far. She serves as motivation for the boys, but she doesn’t really do anything on her own to move the plot forward. Other than being a love interest, I don’t know why she exists. I wish she had a more-important role in the story.

The best part of this series is still the questions that it raises. The series is definitely a product of modern times. UnSouled focuses a lot on terrorism. It shows that terrorists are created when society makes a group of people feel unwanted and ignored. Those people see terrorism as a way to get the world to listen, even if their actions create more problems than solutions.

Like the other books in this series, I got through this one quickly. If unputdownable was a word, this series would be the definition. I’ve been neglecting life to read these books.

So, bring on book #4! Or book #1.5! I don’t know.


  1. I really need to pick up something by Neal Shusterman. I will agree that those covers do nothing for me!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks they’re hideous.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. First of all, I totally agree about the covers! To be honest, I almost didn't even pick up the first book because I thought it was hideous... I know we're not supposed to judge covers but I totally do. I'm glad that you enjoyed this one better than the last! How weird that you still found typos though... I'm assuming you didn't buy a first printing! I hope you enjoy the next book(s) in the series!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. I wonder if some publishing companies put their poorer-quality books in boxsets. I have another boxset that is full of printing errors. It looks like the ink bled through the pages in some places.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!