I doubt I'll ever rate a teen novel this high, unless Neil Gaiman decides to write teen or Diana Wynne Jones rises from the dead. Or Justine Larbalestier does another fantastic piece like "Liar".
This book was that good. And it's a stand alone
teen novel. A rare gem. LOL, no longer stand alone and part of a trilogy.
Beware of spoilers.
Genre: Teen, pre-teen, dystopian, political topics, realistic future, war, disarray, rebellion, inspirational.
Sentence: I sentence Neal Shusterman to writing all my ideas out for me in the beautiful, oddly flowing way he does. Or follow me around while I dictate my entire life, for my own reference (because sometimes I wish I had a way of searching previous memories to the last detail). This could possibly be a form a torture for him. :'D Well, he deserves more than the fame of that
woman (see "Twilight").
Review: I don't even know where to start. I was skeptical when I picked up this rather sad and creepy looking book from a local bookstore. I had heard plenty, of course, but that doesn't always pan out in my experience. Reading it was altogether different from what I expected.
It's not the typical Dystopian society where everything is explained to you right away. Actually, it's better when things are clarified as you go along. From the beginning I found myself attached to Connor, even though I suspect I'd attempt to be a model 13-18 year old in order not to be unwound. But his absolute stubbornness in being his hot-headed self won me over. Then you meet Risa and Lev and suddenly all their stories collide (almost literally, haha) in this strange twist of chance. This opportunity saves them from their ultimate fate of being shipped off to a harvest camp and being used for their body parts. Not that they're dead when they are unwound. They're kept alive in the pieces they so graciously give away.
You see, after the pro-life versus pro-choice war, the Bill of Life changes everything. When a child is 13 to 18 years old their parents have the right to sign them off to be unwound, especially if they aren't really doing any good (or living up to certain expectations). It's a bit of the impure and savage masked by civility; something made acceptable by doing nothing and refusing to empathize.
This novel really reminded me of a mix of "Repo! The Genetic Opera" (with less of the chaos, disorder, gore...and singing) and season four of "Torchwood: Miracle Day".
The way Shusterman makes the little things connect and flow is not so much mind-boggling as it is surprisingly pleasant. Because, let's be honest, most teen lit. does not have much flow. Shusterman's work is certainly something for teen authors to aspire to, along with Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, Suzanne Collins, Stephen Chbosky, Laurie Halse Anderson, Patrick Ness, Jessica Verday, Holly Black...and possibly Classandra Clare (I normally wouldn't categorize her here, but she's pretty decent for her first three books).
I might have to read this book again and again and again. And the thought of that actually excites me.
This book has also convinced me to take a break from teen until I'm ready to re-visit things not up to par with his excellence. Yeah, I'm reading real fiction. lol I'm actually almost through The Leftovers by Tom Perotta. :)