YA Dystopian Book Review: UnWholly


If you loved Unwind, you will love UnWholly! I am so getting sucked into this crazy, messed up, dystopian world Neal Shusterman has created with this series – a world where teens can be “unwound,” or, essentially, killed and parted out for people who need or just want replacement limbs/organs/parts. It’s interesting because after reading Unwind (see review here), although I loved it, I didn’t feel there was too much of a cliffhanger that made me just dying to read the second book. In fact, I waited for a while to read it, choosing a few others before it. Unwind just had such an amazing ending that I didn’t feel it needed to go on. Imagination could take care of that.

However, once I got into UnWholly, I could see the series starting to take shape with new information that started to put the pieces together (no pun intended…), making a clear journey definitely worth taking with the characters. In fact, I found myself not only going on the journey with them, but also cheering them on as they endeavored to fulfill their own personal missions to save the society from the horrific mess it had gotten itself into.

Part of what I love about this series is its depiction of such a corrupt, selfish, and twisted society. I’m glad I read the second book because the first one didn’t do a good job of explaining fully why they went to the policy of unwinding teens as a concession to both sides of the abortion issue. I mean, he kind of explained it, but it didn’t seem very plausible. UnWholly, explains this issue more, providing much more believable, albeit totally screwed up, justifications. With all of the different points of view, the reader gets to see first-hand how twisted these people’s minds are, when they are completely blind to it. Although we’re meant to despise these people, it’s not too hard to see a bit of our society in them as well. One excuse given by a mother for why she chose to unwind her unruly teenage boy really stuck with me. She said, “We tried to be good parents. We really did. But there comes a point when you just give up trying.” I couldn’t help but think about the parents in our society today who give up on their kids. Some may even get them taken away and try to get them back, but only try so hard and eventually give up. We are far from sending disobedient, “worthless” teens to be unwound, but there’s enough realism there to make you sit and ponder.

Another aspect about this series that I think Shusterman nailed is the various points of view. If ever there was a story with an omniscient point of view that was truly successful, it’s this series! Each chapter goes back and forth between not only the main characters, but also some of the minor characters, the antagonists, and a few random people or even objects like a plane. He also even throws in some advertisements for unwinding that are so jacked up it makes you want to punch someone in the face. In light of reading Allegiant (3rd in Divergent series – see review here), where the dual point of view of Tris and Tobias failed to have any differentiation in voice, this book shows you just how many different ways a writer can change his/her wording, details, and sentence structure to fit the voices of different characters. They all had such distinct thoughts, vernacular, temperaments, feelings, etc., and I was amazed at how Shusterman was able to pull this off with so many different people. 

I am anxious to read the third book, but apprehensive at the same time because I know I’ll have to wait until October for the forth one! Oh well…such is life.


~ by Dusty Crabtree - Author of Shadow Eyes on March 3, 2014.

2 Responses to “YA Dystopian Book Review: UnWholly”

  1. Hiǥhly energetic blog, I loved that a lot. Will there bbe a part 2?

  2. […] of the whole Unwind series and his writing style for a long time. Check out my reviews of Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3. Apparently, I never got around to reviewing Book 4, but I remember it was just as […]

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