Unwind by Neal Shusterman

After the Second Civil War in the United States, the government passes the “Bill of Life,” outlawing abortion, but giving parents the option of “unwinding” their teens between the ages of 13 and 18. Unwinds are sent to harvest Camp where their organs are donated to others who need them, ending their life, but technically keeping parts of their bodies alive, if divided among countless other people. It is an intriguing premise and raises a number of interesting questions about the value of life and the government’s right to get involved.

Our story follows three teens with very different backgrounds who are scheduled to be unwound: Connor is a teen whose parents are tired of his attitude and behavior, Risa is an orphan who is being unwound to make room for more children in her state home, and Lev is a boy being tithed by his religious parents. When Connor escapes the youth police on the way to his unwinding, he sets off a chain of events that brings our characters together. Fugitives from a society, they must rely on each other to survive.

While all the characters were interesting and well-written, I was most facinated by Lev, a young boy who has been raised knowing he would be unwound when he reached the age of thirteen. He considers it an honor to be tithed and his internal struggle between his desire to live and his life’s duty makes for very interesting reading. In addition to the three main characters, Unwind features chapters from the point of view of a number of side characters that really help flesh out the world.

Neal Shusterman has created a chillingly plausible world and populated it with believable characters that I really cared about. I can’t wait to read the sequel!

Contributed by Allen

Have YOU read it? Let us know if you have or if you are excited about this one.

Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

As the seventh son of a seventh son, Thomas Ward doesn’t have much of a farming future ahead of him. He can’t stay on his family’s farm since his older brother’s family is growing. But that doesn’t bother him too much, and anyways, his life is about to get really interesting. His parents have arrange an apprenticeship with the Spook–one of the most feared people in the County. Together and alone, they will face ghosts, boggarts, witches and other things that crawl in the night. Can Tom make it through his apprenticeship? Let’s hope so because he is The Last Apprentice.

Looking at the cover of the book I thought we would be in for a dirty and dreary ride. While there is some dirt and digging, the book was anything but dreary. The short chapters really propelled the story along and soon we are learning all about ghosts and boggarts and the different kinds of witches. I really liked Tom. He is one of the most honest characters I’ve meet in a while. He knows when he makes mistakes (and boy does he!), but he admits to them and learns from them. He is also one of the bravest characters I’ve met as well. Unlike Harry Potter, when Tom is in danger, he has no magic to rely on. Instead, he must use his head and his instincts to help him survive.

But will those things help him survive the Revenge of the Witch?

Have YOU read this one? What did you think?

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender Wiggin is only six years old when he is recruited to Battle School where he will be trained to protect mankind from the next invasion by an alien race who have already invaded and nearly won, twice before. Because of his small size, Ender is bullied by the bigger kids who want to be the star pupils at Battle School, but because of his intelligence and wit, Ender excels and quickly rises through the ranks. Battle School is a grueling series of challenges and tests and the toil takes a great toll on its students, but with the future of humanity on the line, the stakes are too high to quit. Would you have what it takes to make it through Battle School? What emotional price is too high to pay with so much at stake?

Truth be told, I am not a big science fiction reader. When a number of my friends started singing the praises of Ender’s Game, I didn’t think I would enjoy it, but I gave it a try. Wow, am I glad I did! Once I started reading, I finished the book in one sitting–it is that good!

I would compare Ender’s Game to Harry Potter in some ways–Ender is a young boy when he is thrust into a dangerous and exciting school where he is challenged to live up to his potential and grow from a boy into a protector of humanity. Orson Scott Card has written a number of sequels and prequels to Ender’s Game and greatly expanded the rich universe he created in this novel.

Contributed by Allen

Is this one YOU have read? Tell us what you thought.