The story begins with 16 year old Connor discovering that his parents have signed his unwinding order. In revenge, he buys his mother flowers, telling her he loves her and gets a B+ for the first time, causing his Dad to sit for hours in stunned remorse. It is, however, too late.
He runs away and is joined on the run by a ward of state who isn't musically gifted enough to be kept intact, and a 'tithe', a tenth child who has been raised to believe that unwinding is his religious vocation. They end up with an underground railroad of runaway unwinds, trying to stay alive until they turn eighteen.
Although catalogued as a teen fiction book, it is thought provoking and entertaining enough to be read by anybody. It touches on some very adult issues such as the meaning of consciousness, what it is to be alive, harvesting of organs and pro-life, pro-choice arguments.
The author keeps the action coming and takes each character on a wild journey, which sees one of them contemplating becoming a suicide bomber or 'clapper' and two of them romantically involved. It is imaginative and well-written, and a must-read for those who enjoy futuristic, fantastical dystopia.
Author: Neal Shusterman
ISBN: 9780857079978 (pbk.)
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Clare, Massey Library