Author: Neal Shusterman
I was obviously incredibly excited to read this book, because I love the Unwind universe so much, but also a little nervous because I don’t always love short stories and Undivided was so incredibly perfect, that I wasn’t sure that this collection of short stories was entirely necessary, but I am glad to say, that whilst it’s not my favourite book from this universe, I did enjoy it and felt that most of the stories did add something to the universe. The only thing I was slightly disappointed in, was that there was no short story about Connor, Risa wasn’t the main focus in the story that she was in and there was no new story about Lev. I liked the stories that we were given but at the same time, it would have been nice to get some new stories about our protagonists. Still this story was not meant to be a sequel to Undivided, it’s more like a bonus and all in all, I enjoyed diving back into one of my favourite universes again. Here is the synopsis for the book:
In the New York Times bestselling Unwind Dystology—Unwind,UnWholly, UnSouled, and UnDivided—Neal Shusterman thrilled readers with the story of a society that deals with its out-of-control teens by “unwinding” them—transplanting more than 99% of their bodies into other people.
In the latest installment of this sequence, Shusterman—along with collaborators Terry Black, Michelle Knowlden, Brendan Shusterman, and Jarrod Shusterman—explores even more aspects of a world that has accepted the unacceptable. These short stories examine the world of unwinding in a way we haven’t seen before, providing a fresh framework, new characters, and a different take on some events.
With UnBound, Shusterman’s fans can continue to get caught up in the world he has created in this “gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller”
I’m going to focus on each short story one at a time in this review as they are all stand alone stories, though there are a few connections between them and then end with some general thoughts on the collection as whole.
UnSchooled is the first story in the collection, and whilst I found it interesting to see Jasper Nelson as a young teenager and his backstory and how he eventually ended up becoming a juvey cop, I didn’t feel like it was the most memorable story in the collection. However it was the only story that showed the what the world in Unwind was like just as the Unwind Accord was coming in and that was interesting to see, as it’s something that is only alluded to in the main sequence of books.
Unfinished Symphony was one of my favourite stories in the collection. It was interesting to see Risa from a more negative angle, although for me at least, Brooklyn came off worse than Risa because she just seemed petty. I really liked Thor, he was so cute and it was cool to see deaf kids in the Unwind universe as that wasn’t something we saw in the original series of books.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of Brooklyn, I mean she did what she had to do to survive (it turns out Risa was never meant to be on the list for unwinding, she ended up there because Brooklyn switched their names) but she was kind of mean and angry for what seemed like no real reason. It seemed silly that she was still holding a grudge towards Risa for something that happened so long ago. I really enjoyed the story though and would actually like to read more about Brooklyn and Risa because I feel like there is more to their past together than we are told in this story.
UnDevoured was a story about Roland. It felt kind of weird reading about Roland again, after what happened to him in Unwind, it was almost like reading about a ghost. But it was cool to get some insight into Roland’s family and backstory, I’d definitely like to read more about them. It was also cool seeing the origins of Roland’s shark tattoo (a shark attack), those chapters were really exciting and gripping. However the story did remind me of why I never liked Roland (I still don’t feel that he deserved what happened to him in Unwind, but I never did like him), because he’s cruel and manipulative and what he did to Valerie and Zane was awful. Still he’s a character I love to read about because he’s so complex, so if Shusterman ever decided to write more about him, I would definitely read it!
Unclean felt kind of out of place in the book as it didn’t feature any recognisable characters from the main series, but I still liked it. I felt really sorry for poor Jobe who was so ill, but I liked that in the end, he got to do something that mattered with his life. I really liked Anissa, I thought she was really cool and again if Neal Shusterman were ever to write any more stories set in this universe, I would read more stories about her. I felt sorry for Heath about his brother, although that didn’t justify what he was planning to do (give organs from sick kids to Unwind recipients as a way of hopefully stopping unwinding), though it definitely shows the lengths that some people were willing to go to in order to stop Unwinding. I liked the scene in the burning Centralia mine, the idea of a mine completely filled with fire, I thought was really cool. It felt like the story ended kind of abruptly though, I almost wish there was more of it because it didn’t seem to come to a natural end.
I was glad that with the release of this short story collection, I finally got to read Unstrung. I had pretty much worked out what happened in this story from the information we get in Unsouled, but it was still nice to be able to read it. Even though I knew it was coming, I felt so sad for what happened to Wil, he was a nice guy and he didn’t deserve it. It was nice to see Wil and Una together if only for a short time, they were really cute together and it made what happened to him even sadder.
Unnatural Selection was another of my favourite stories from this collection. I really liked Colton, he reminded me of Connor in a way, so whilst I’d rather have had a story with Connor in it, it was nice to have a story with a character that reminded me of him. The doctor at the Dah Zey harvest camp (this story is all about the Dah Zey by the way), was horrible, it seemed as if he might have been modelled on Josef Mengele, the doctor who performed horrible experiments on prisoners in Auschwitz, though that’s just what I thought, I can’t know if that was what Neal Shusterman was thinking when he created this character, it just seemed that way to me. It was really interesting to learn more about the Dah Zey in this story, given that we only hear a few small things about them in Undivided. I didn’t like Karissa initially but I felt really bad for what happened to her sister, though I still think she was stupidly naive in her deal with the Dah Zey, to me it was obvious that if you offer the Dah Zey 50 AWOLs in exchange for the release of your sister and you give them 49, of course you were going to be number 50. I also felt really bad for what happened to Jenson. This story definitely had the most creep factor out of any of the stories in the book, particularly with Rodin’s (the doctor) experiments, which is probably why I liked it so much as it was very old school creepy Unwind, but just with new characters. I felt bad for what happened to Kunal (one of Rodin’s experiments) but it all worked out for him in the end so that was good. I hated Sonthi (Rodin’s right hand man) at first, but in the end realized that he wasn’t so bad (at least as not bad as you can be, being part of the Dah Zey!).
I really like UnConfirmed, even though it was the shortest story in the book, as it was the only one that talked about what happened to Connor and Risa post Undivided. As always, I loved Hayden, I would honestly read an entire book about Hayden, I love him that much. This story seemed to hint that Hayden was bisexual, I can honestly say I’ve never really thought about his sexuality, but I think it makes sense with his character. I really loved the interaction between Grace and Hayden, I would definitely read more about the two of them together. It was nice to hear at least a little about Connor and Risa and I loved the little hint at the end that suggested Grace’s theory about them being on a yacht in the Mediterranean might be true but I wish we had got a full story about them, Grace’s theory seemed so perfect that I would have loved to have read that story. I also would have liked it to be a little longer, given that it was the only story that talked about Connor and Risa post-Undivided.
Untithed was a story about what happened to Miracolina after she returned home post-Unwholly. I really loved Miracolina in this, it’s honestly hard to remember why I didn’t initially like her in Unwholly, she’s actually a really nice person, who just wants her life to have meaning and purpose and to be able to connect to people and I think we can all relate to that. It was nice to see what happened to her after Unwholly anyway, as that was always a big question mark. I kind of wish the story had been a bit longer though! I enjoyed Miracolina’s friendship with Bryce and liked that it was him who showed her that she didn’t need to be a tithe to have purpose.
Rewinds was a story about Cam and the Rewinds that he rescued at the end of Undivided. I enjoyed this story though I wouldn’t say it was one of my favourites of the collection. I liked the relationship between Cam & Una, though it did feel slightly strange, having read about Una and Wil’s relationship in Unstrung, it was weird to see the similarities in this one. It wrapped up the loose ends of Cam’s story from Undivided though, which I appreciated. I found it was easier to understand the weird thought processes of the Rewinds this time around than it was at first with Cam. I quite liked Keaton, though as a new Rewind, his personality wasn’t entirely fleshed out. I felt bad for Dirk, though he was evil and what he did to the girl Keliana was awful. There was an interesting bit where a mob of people mistook Keaton for Dirk, and I thought that was an interesting analysis of racism and mob mentality.
Unknown Quantity was a story about what happened to Argent and Divan post Undivided. I really like Divan and Argent’s relationship, to me it seemed almost like a father/son relationship albeit a very twisted one. This story definitely gave me the creepy feels, particularly with Divan unwinding his own nephew (and allowing his plane with his sister on board to crash), just when I think he can’t get any creepier, he does. Despite this, after this story, I kind of like Divan in a weird way. The ending hinted at the possibility of more stories, particularly with Divan and Argent planning on going to the Mediterranean and the hint that Risa and Connor are there in UnConfirmed. I don’t think Neal Shusterman is planning any more instalments in this series, but if he ever did want to go back to it, then he’s definitely given himself a way to continue if he wants to. Malik was awful, I was actually glad that Divan unwound him. I thought it was really sweet that Divan gave Argent, Malik’s face, but obviously in a creepy kind of way, because he wouldn’t be Divan otherwise. I also liked the link between this and Unnatural Selection, given that Sonthi was also in this story.
On the whole, the collection was good, with some stories being more standout than others, but it was definitely a nice addition to the Unwind universe, even if I would have liked a Connor/Risa story and maybe a new Lev story as well. Some of the stories were co-written with Neal and another writer, but I found this didn’t affect the writing style and in fact some of my favourite stories were ones that were co-written. One point that I did have, which doesn’t have anything to do with the writing, is that I wish the cover of this matched the covers of the rest of the books in the series as I thought those were so much creepier and I prefer it when the covers of all books in a certain universe match! Still that was just a little thing and didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the series!
My Rating: 3.5/5
The next book I will be reading is Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, I’ve been hearing so much about this series and how great it is, so I’m hoping I enjoy this book just as much as every other blogger out there seems to have.