In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life — not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

Check out the Unwind Movie Site!

Video Feature

Awards & Honors

2008 ALA Top Ten Picks for Reluctant Readers
2008 ALA Best Young Adult Book list
2010 Japanese Sakura Medal
2008 Bank Street Best Books of the Year
Nevada Young Reader Award WINNER
2010 Washington Evergreen YA Book award List WINNER
WINNER OF 2010 Oklahoma Intermediate Sequoyah Award List
Nominee for 2010 Oklahoma High School Sequoyah Award List
2009/2010 Texas Lonestar Award List
2009 Texas Tayshas Award List
2009/2010 Virginia Readers Choice Award WINNER
2009/2010 Indiana Rosewater High School Book Award WINNER
2010 Utah Beehive Award Nominee
2009/2010 Missouri Gateway Readers Award WINNER
2010 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award List
2009/2010 Vermont Green Mountain Book Award
2010 Rhode Island Teen Book Award List
2010 Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award List
2009/2010 Georgia Peach Award List
2009/2010 Florida Teens Read Award List
2009/2010 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award List WINNER
2010-2011 One Book for Nebraska Teens WINNER
2010-2011 California Young Reader Medal Nomination
The United Kingdom Coventry Inspiration “Simply the Book” Award WINNER
2009/2010 Kentucky Bluegrass Award List
2010 South Dakota YARP Award List
2011 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award WINNER
2010-2011 New Hampshire Isinglass Teen Reads Award List
NY Public Library “Books for the Teen Age”
2010 New Jersey Garden State Children’s Book Award Nominee
2010 Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award List
2011 Nutmeg Book Award Nominee WINNER
Vermont’s Green Mountain Book Award
2011 YALSA’s Popular Paperback Award List
2011 Iowa Teen Award List
Germany’s 2013 “Buxtehuder Bulle” Award — nomination


The New York Times

What keeps Unwind moving are the creative and shocking details of Shusterman’s kid-mining dystopia. First, there are the Orwellian linguistic tricks. People who have been unwound are not “dead”—they are “in a divided state.” Then there are the rules and rituals. Before being unwound, Lev is honored with a lavish “tithing party,” which bears a strong resemblance to a bar mitzvah. The most terrifying scene is devoted to the unwinding itself. The author’s decision to describe the process is a questionable one—a book’s great unknown can leave the strongest impression on a reader—but he executes as precisely as the surgeons who perform the unwinding. Ultimately, though, the power of the novel lies in what it doesn’t do: come down explicitly on one side or the other.


. . .The novel follows three protagonists who are attempting to “kick-AWOL” and survive to eighteen to escape their unwindings: Connor, the rebellious teen; Risa, a ward of the state being unwound because of budget cuts; and Lev, a tithe born as an unwind sacrifice. The novel begs two questions: When does a life have value? Who determines whether it is worth keeping? Unfortunately who is unwound and who gets which “parts” is often determined by socio-economic status. In addition, parents seem to shamelessly unwind their children for typical teen frustration and rebellion. Betrayal by parents and the system is a horrifying truth for the protagonists. As such, there are many passages that are difficult to read either for their heartrending nature or their shocking specifics, particularly the detailed “harvest” of a well-known character. Poignant, compelling, and ultimately terrifying, this book will enjoy popularity with a wide range of readers beyond its science-fiction base.

School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW

…There is evenhanded, thoughtful treatment of many issues, including when life starts and stops, consciousness, religion, free will, law, trust and betrayal, suicide bombers, and hope. Initially, the premise of parents dismantling their children is hard to accept; however, readers are quickly drawn into the story, which is told in a gripping, omniscient voice. Characters live and breathe; they are fully realized and complex, sometimes making wrenchingly difficult decisions. This is a thought-provoking, well-paced read that will appeal widely, especially to readers who enjoy Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies (2005)…


In his chilling new novel, Neal Shusterman paints a picture of a world where there aren’t any cures and doctors, just surgeons and replacements. Three unwanted teenagers face a fate worse that death — unwinding. Their bodies will be cut up, and every part of them used, from their brains to their toes. But if they can stay out of the authorities’ clutches until the age of eighteen, they just might survive…. The most frightening science fiction novels are always the ones that are most similar to our world. Shusterman doesn’t fail to describe how a wrong solution to a modern issue can affect generations to come. Thought-provoking, terrifying, and almost inconceivable, UNWIND will keep you reading late into the night

. AND – HERE’S A LINK TO A GREAT REVIEW BY A BOOK SELLER (who also happens to be the daughter of Laurie Halse Anderson – How cool is that!)

17 Comments so far:

  1. […] Adam: This book is shocking. An outstanding book. This book plays on a gritty aspect. I say this because if you read the back, it only tells you a little bit of what’s happening in this new dystopian society. In the beginning, there is one part with a brutal bus crash. This will set the mood of the book. I was expecting a dark horror aspect throughout the book, but what I got was a gritty, twisting turning masterpiece. And there are three other books! I cannot wait to read the others…

  2. […] From entertainment to academics, literature has inspired me to write. There are both “good” and “bad” books published, but it gives me the time to learn about different writing styles. What makes their storytelling interesting, why I am interested with the characters, and what are the themes or meanings behind them. Not all books have themes and that’s fine. In this list if it wasn’t for my mom who got me into reading, I doubt that I would be writing and creating my own stories. My favorite childhood book is The Music of the Dolphins. The link to that information is here. For Fantasy is Harry Potter, and ScFi book currently is Unwind. Link for that book is here.  […]

  3. Alisha says:

    Someone please help my daughter wants this book but I don’t know which to buy or even really what the difference is between the unwind collection or the unwind dystology please help

  4. Catiline Mercier says:

    i read this book . i was sitting on the edge of my seat for days just trying to finish i don’t think of books as sucking you in for more, but i did this time. cant wait to read the others!

  5. Caurlay says:

    I love this book keep it up

  6. Jane Doe says:

    Well, this was a good book. Although there was a page where the wrong ¨here¨ was used. How does the editor miss something like that? I wish there was more of a life conclusion in the end of the book as well. It doesnt tell much about how everyone lives afterwards.

  7. Maya says:

    I just want to say that these have been my favorite books since I was 15. They really changed the way I view writing and other books! Unfortunately this highlighted how uncreative a lot of writers are with imagery in comparison!
    Ive read lots of your other books as well and have Bruiser at home on my book shelf!
    I also really enjoy the diversity you have in your books in terms of races and also the inclusion of Cyfi’s fathers! If anything Id love to see more trans characters in your work!
    I also thought it’d be interesting if Hayden was asexual (as a side note).
    Anyways, Im buying undivided once I get home from college so I just want to thabk you for always giving me something to look forward to.

    • Neal says:

      Thank you for your comments, Maya! I try to be diverse with my books. With regards to Hayden, I thought it was much-needed to have a character who chooses to keep his sexuality his own business, and refuses to be defined by it. Hayden could be gay, straight, bi, or asexual, and he is happy to keep it to himself!

  8. love spells says:

    Hello,I check your new stuff named “The Unwind Dystology | Neal Shusterman” on a regular basis.Your story-telling style is witty, keep it up! And you can look our website about love spells.

  9. Oliver says:

    Will any of the books in the dystology become a movie?

  10. Mary says:

    I love these books so much and I am so excited for it to be a tv show. One of my all time favorite series- if you’re looking for a read that will make you wanna clean up society you’ve come to the right place. I love the viewpoints and writes style- it’s so unique and well written!!! Not to mention the amazing character development that’s better than anything I’ve read in a really long time. So much love for this series!

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