Author: Neal Shusterman
Unsouled begins directly where Unwhollly left off (slight spoiler alert for the end of Unwholly here because I can’t do this any other way) after the airplane graveyard was raided, 400 unwinds were captured and sent off for unwinding and Connor was rescued by Lev, with the two of them on their way to Ohio to see Sonia and learn more about her husband Janson Rheinschild and how unwinding came to be, so they can see if there is a way to stop it. Here is a synopsis of the book:
In the next part of Neal Shusterman’s gripping and thought-provoking futuristic thriller, Connor, Lev and Risa continue to uncover shocking secrets about the process of ‘Unwinding’ and the company, Proactive Citizenry, which created Cam, a teen made completely from parts taken from ‘unwound’ teens. There are plans to mass produce rewound teens like Cam for military purposes, and below the surface of that potential horror lies a sinister layer of intrigue… Proactive Citizenry has been suppressing technology that could make unwinding completely unnecessary. Will Connor, Lev and Risa ever be able to break free from the fear of Unwinding?
This book was a little slower than Unwholly but it did manage to grip my interest the entire way through which I would say makes it just as good. There are two new characters introduced in this book, Grace and Argent Skinner who Lev and Connor meet on their way to Ohio, as they are going through Heartsdale, Kansas. I didn’t really like Argent, I thought he was a bit stupid, especially when he posted a picture of himself and Connor together-he knew Connor was presumed to be dead by everyone after the Happy Jack Harvest Camp revolt and probably wanted to keep a low profile so why the hell would he take a picture and post it all of the internet for everyone to see?! He was also really annoying and so mean to Grace however I did like his scenes with Nelson the parts pirate, they were able to bounce off each other well and it made me like both of them a little more. I’m intrigued to see whether they will find Connor in the next book or not, I’m in two minds about this because if they do then it will make for a good fight scene but at the same time I want Connor to be safe, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes.
Grace Skinner is the other new character introduced in Unsouled. She’s Argent’s older sister and unlike him, I loved her. She’s feebleminded (called low cortical in the book) and so in eligible for unwinding even by parts pirates and yet even though she is, she seems to be smarter than everyone else which kind of made me wonder if some of the low cortical thing was an act-like she pretends to be less smart than she is maybe. I liked that her relationship with Connor was more brother/sisterly than her relationship with her actual brother (who is constantly rude to her), I thought that was cute. One of my favourite parts of this book was the scene with Grace and Connor and the juvey cop, I thought it was so funny and I especially liked the “nice socks” throwback to the first book. One of the things I think is so great about these books is that Shusterman manages to balance humour and seriousness very well, because with a book like this it’s easy to get bogged down in the seriousness and he manages to keep it just serious enough whilst adding touches of humour at appropriate moments which I think is great. As with the last book I love how unrelated POV’s link into the story and that he used adverts again, keeping us up to date on what’s going on in their world outside Connor, Risa and Lev.
Risa’s part in this book was a little smaller which I was disappointed about because she’s my favourite character-I was waiting until the second part of the book before I got to see what was going on with her. She had a great scene where she got trapped by a parts pirate and I thought it was so clever how she managed to get herself out but she doesn’t really do much for most of the book which was a shame as she is such a great character and I really wish I could have seen some further development from her this book. I did like her scenes with Audrey (a hairdresser she hides with whilst on the run) because it almost seemed like a mother-daughter relationship and as she’s a ward of the state we haven’t seen that with Risa before and it was nice to see one of the main characters doing something normal for once, like having a makeover even if it was in order to hide her identity. I also loved the tension Shusterman created between her, Cam and Connor and I liked that Risa got her revenge on the juvies on her own little way (you’ll understand when you read the book).
I also thought that the relationship between Cam and Connor was very well done, there was just the right amount of jealousy and rivalry but with some lighthearted humour. I wanted to see a big fight between Connor and Cam but actually I thought the way Shusterman did it was better, less outright fighting but more of an underlying sense of tension. I still think there may be a big fight between them because it feels like there was too much tension for one of them not to blow at some point although it’s pretty clear that Risa has chosen Connor, so I am hoping the love triangle story has ended. I thought that the fact that Connor didn’t immediately blow up at Cam is testament to how much he has grown as a character, he’s not as angry anymore and he doesn’t immediately lead with his fists without thinking things through, yet he still retains the qualities that made me love him (as I said in my review of Unwholly but I think Unsouled has taken his development a step further).
Connor and Lev’s relationship was also great in this book, I think they’ve really become proper friends now and I hope to see more of their relationship in the next book. I’m hoping that in the next book all the three main characters will finally come back together because two books apart is a little too long for my liking. I thought the bit where Connor hit Lev with the police car was particularly well done. As I did not read Unstrung before reading Unwholly (the e-novella between Unwind and Unwholly, I don’t think you need to read it, as far as I’ve heard it isn’t very good and I understood the bits that linked to that in here just fine), I liked that the Arapache reservation was included in this book because it ties together the loose ends of Lev’s story in Unwind for those of us who haven’t read Unstrung and it also tied in to Cam’s story as well which I will explain why later. It also showed a different culture which was great (they are native Americans, called ChanceFolk). It was nice to see Lev finally fitting in to a family and I will be interested to see if he manages to rally the Arapache to their cause or not (as he stayed at the Rez in order to do this).
I liked that Hayden had a larger POV in this book (he had a chapter in Unwholly) because aside from the main three, he is one of my favourite characters and a lot of the humour in Unsouled came from him. I liked his relationship with Bam, they had good banter and I see possibility for romance there, definitely more than with Bam and Starkey whom Bam seems to like. I still hate Starkey but I have to admit his ways of making sure the storks don’t get captured are clever, and whilst I thought he was an idiot to go liberating harvest camps and punishing the leaders of them, they did make for some good action scenes and it seemed like it was kind of reminiscent of the liberations of concentration camps in World War II. It also provided some scenes on the level of creepiness of Roland’s unwinding in Unwind, particularly when he hung five members of staff of the harvest camps to ceiling fans-I will not be forgetting about that anytime soon. I want to see what the clappers want with Starkey-do they really want Unwinding to continue and that’s why they’re letting him continue his “liberations”? I hope that in the next book Starkey gets what he deserves.
One of my favourite parts of the books were the flashbacks of the Rheinschilds, it explained how unwinding came about since without the technology the Rheinschilds created it wouldn’t have been possible and also why the Rheinschilds were erased from history because Janson was trying to work on something that would end unwinding forever. The fact that Sonia was initially so involved in the technology that enabled unwinding explains why she rescues AWOL Unwinds which I thought was great, in fact I wish I could have seen a little more of them. I also loved the way Sonia reacted to Cam when she met him, it was exactly like I imagined and it was nice to see Connor and Risa with Sonia again, I would like some more scenes with them in the next book.
There were some great links from this book to Unwind again, not only with the return of Sonia but we also got to see Hannah (the teacher who saved Connor and Risa at the school) and Didi (now known as Dierdre), the stroked baby that Connor and Risa rescued in the first book. Risa also met CyFi from the first book (the boy who Lev travelled with) which was a nice way to tie this book to Unwind. I did think the Tyler-folk (people who have parts of Tyler Walker, the boy whose unwound temporal lobe went to CyFi and makes him 7/8 him and 1/8 Tyler and causes him to steal) were very creepy though, I wasn’t sure I liked them much.
I wasn’t sure want to think of Cam in this book. I thought it was a bit silly that he basically abandoned his plan to take down Proactive Citizenry to chase after Risa, although I don’t think he’s abandoned it for good, and I bet we’ll see more of him and the others trying to take down Proactive Citizenry next book. I felt kind of sorry for Cam when he was captured by Roberta, I still hate her and I hope he gets his revenge. Cam was treated a lot more like property than a person this book and I’m not sure what to think of that, though the question is still up in the air as to whether Cam is a person, we’re not going to get a definitive answer to that so we have to decide for ourselves and I think that’s the point. Personally I think he has enough of his own feelings to be counted as a person. The link that Cam has to the Arapache Rez is that he is the recipient of Wil Tashine’s unwound hands and the Tashine’s are the family Lev stayed with when he first went to the Rez-Wil was taken by parts pirates saving Lev and other Arapache youth from being unwound. We got to see Cam interact with Wil’s fiancée Una and it was interesting to see the strange relationship between them, as we’ve never seen the relationship between someone who has an unwound’s part and someone who was close to the unwind before.
Connor’s family was briefly mentioned in this book and I’d quite like a scene with him and them in the next book, although I don’t think it’s likely, as Lev has had his scene rejecting his family, I’d quite like to see one where Connor confronts his.
Overall this book was very good, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next book goes as the next book is the last one and a pretty huge revelation is made at the end of this book which shows that Unwinding is not necessary after all. I’m expecting some big battle or protest of course, but I look forward to seeing how everything works out and how Neal Shusterman wraps up what has been an incredible series of books.
My rating: 4/5
The next book I will be reviewing is Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, which will be the last of my holiday read updates and then you’ll have to wait a while before I finish the book I’m currently reading.