“This is a book I have been torn about for some time. It is a sequel to one of the most amazing dystopian novels I have ever read, "Unwind." To be honest, I couldn't see why there needed to be more to the story and was worried what would happen as the author tried to continue with it. Fortunately, my worry seems to be for naught.
Set in the not so distant future when America has recovered from a civil war between people who supported abortion and those who were opposed, this novel picks up just where the previous one had ended. Connor has become the leader of a settlement of AWOL unwinds, those who have been signed over for death so their parts can be harvested for those who need them. While babies can no longer be aborted, those between the ages of 13 and 17 are allowed to be signed over by their gardians to be unwound. Connor has taken on almost mythic status as the unwound who led a revolution. Now, the residents of the Graveyard, a former Air Force base used to house retired planes in Arizona, struggle to survive as they hope the authorities won't notice him.
Risa is one of his friends and leaders of the Graveyard. She was with him when he started the revolution, which would be surprising when you looked at her. She has an injured spine and is bound to a wheelchair as a result. That makes her ineligible to be unwound, but she still supports the movement and serves as the head medic.
Then there is Lev. He was a tithe, a person with a strong religious leaning that has opted to dedicate themselves to being unwound for various reasons, though usually like the 1/10 tax to God that they are named after. By the end of the previous novel, his views had changed and he became a Clapper, a terrorist who has filled his blood with explosives that are triggered by clapping their hands together. He literally sparked the movement that brought Conner to fame.
Along with these three characters, we are introduced to three new characters. The first is Camus, or Cam. That's him on the cover. He is a composite being, never birthed on his own, but built with the best parts of the unwound. At first, he is horrified by his status and sees himself as little better than Frankenstein's monster. As he learns to control his mind and body, he starts to consider whether he is alive and has a soul, particularly as Risa orbits into his life.
Miracolina is another tithe. She was actually born to be a genetic match so her brother could get treatment for his leukemia. Out of thanks, she and her parents decided that she should become a Tithe. As she is heading off to fulfill that requirement, she is freed by an organization set up to save tithes from their brainwashed status. This group has set up Lev as a religious icon, and both he and Miracolina realize they are each what the other needed.
The final character is Starkey. He is what they call a stork. Since abortion is illegal, one of the new adjustments was that it now became allowable to leave a baby on someone else's doorstep ... much like a stork. The family must adopt the child and raise him or her ... at least until they can be unwound at 13. Starkey was unfortunately enough to be designated to be unwound. Fortunately, he escapes and makes his way to the Graveyard. While he is there, he starts to believe that the storks are discriminated against. As a result, he starts a movement that will allow him to gain a leadership role and overthrow Connor. The question is whether or not that would be a good thing.
The book continues to questions some of the core problems of our American culture. At the same time, the reader is able to get better insight into the civil war that led up to the unwinding system and who controls it in the now. It is hard not to be drawn into the stories of the various characters and feel for them, whether they are villains or heroes. The writing pulled me in just as Shusterman had with the previous novel. I am definitely looking forward to the final book in the trilogy, which is to be called "Unsouled."”