Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I told myself I was going to abstain from buying any new books for awhile so that I could put a dent in my unacceptably enormous to-read pile. HA!

I was successful for perhaps two weeks (ya gotta start somewhere). My SIL gave me Unwind by Neal Shusterman for Christmas (it was a very successful reading related holiday) and I started reading it last week. The moment I finished Unwind I promptly went to my local book store (shout out to the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA!) and bought UnWholly. I did not however realize this was a trilogy and inadvertently committed myself to buying the third book UnSouled as well as an mid-trilogy e-book UnStrung. This is not such a tragic situation as Unwind was awesome/incredible/amazing/insane and I am looking forward to continuing the story of Lev, Risa, and Connor.

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Unwind is the story of three teenagers on the run from certain death. But is it actual death or a change in scenery, merely life in a divided state? Rewind! Laying the scene: in the near future, the second civil war has been fought over reproductive rights and the Bill of Life is made law. Abortions are illegal but between the ages of 13 and 18, a child may be unwound. When a child is unwound, they are essentially disassembled with all of >99% of their organs going to different donors. The children are not being sentenced to death, they are living on through others, perhaps many others. Press play! Connor, Risa, and Lev are all the run for very different reasons. The trio’s story lines overlap as their struggle for self preservation becomes increasingly complicated and dangerous.

As the novel continues, we learn more about this society, one in which a woman can abandon her newborn on a stranger’s doorstep, ‘storking’ the baby, which another family must care for by law. The public is also in fear of explosive domestic terrorists called ‘clappers.’ And on! Shusterman has created a detailed dystopian society which kept me on the edge of my seat simultaneously eager and nervous to learn more about this not so foreign world.

The chapter which impacted me the most was #61 from Roland’s POV (the novel’s resident bully/villain/troubled teen), just wow… I was reading on the couch and Mark was waiting for me so we could leave the house and I was just glued to the page, and the cushion for that matter Like I said just wow. You must read because Unwind tells a tale that may very well become a reality.

While I continue to digest and process the events of Unwind, up next is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Book Review: House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

I received an ARC of House of Ivy and Sorrow from the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. Initial feelings – I really like the cover and I’m excited to give it a shot! Post feelings – lots of feelings!

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House of Ivy and Sorrow centers around high schooler and young witch Josephine. She lives with her eccentric grandmother in rural Iowa (I think all magical families require an eccentric elder). Josephine is your typical seventeen year old with two best girlfriends and a major crush on a cute farmer boy. Not so side note, she is also a powerful witch.

I thoroughly enjoyed the approach to magic in this novel. Maybe because I don’t have too much experience with witchy story lines (except for Buffy and Beautiful Creatures), I thought it was unique. In Whipple’s world, all magic is dark and using magic comes with a price (fingernails, flesh, temporarily losing one of your senses, you get the idea). If you aren’t careful, you will become Consumed by the magic you channel and the magic will use you up. Josephine’s family is Cursed, her mother died from the mysterious curse and her grandmother will do anything to protect Josephine. In typical YA fashion, everything is going great for Josephine (date with farmer boy anyone??) when a stranger turns up in town asking about her mother and everything gets turned upside down.

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Overall, I enjoyed this story but there was one major draw back. About two thirds of the way through the book, I started thinking there is no way this plot can be wrapped up in one book. I started thinking ‘oh man, yet another series to follow, why can’t people write just a stand alone novel anymore.’ I kept on reading thinking ‘no way this is going to end, no no way’. I compare it to the way I felt while reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Then, surprise surprise, bam climax, bam book’s over. WHATTTTT?! No cliff hanger, like it actually ended. I was truly disappointed that I wasn’t left hanging. Considering Whipple did such a great job of setting the scene, building the characters, the ending felt so rushed; I really was in disbelief that it was over. I’m still in disbelief haha. The ending was tied up like a nice neat present that I did not want receive. As I said, I did enjoy the novel. I want visit Josephine’s small town of Willow’s End and explore her house (and her attic), I want to meet a talking cat, and I want to know more about enigmatic Levi! Here’s to holding onto hope there is a second book?

Other recent January reads include Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson (crazy unexpected ending!!) and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (another delightful Rowell read).