Allison's Book Bag

The Inspiration Behind The Unwind Trilogy

Posted on: September 16, 2013

Because ultimately, a lot of these issues that are dividing the nation are less and less about what the actual issue is and more and more about how the two sides hate each other. And one of the points that I wanted to make in Unwind was, that’s where the problem is.

–Neal Shusterman, Adolescent Literacy

One never knows when the news will inspire a trilogy. Author Neal Shusterman was watching the news and saw a report about transplants and transplant technology. One of the doctors said that within our lifetimes, they will be able to use 100 percent of a person. That made Shusterman wonder…. If one hundred percent of a person was alive, is one alive or is one dead? And he realized that this was a great way of dealing with the whole issue of what does it mean to be alive?

It also allowed Shusterman to take the whole argument about issues like abortion or end of life issues out of the politics and look at it from a whole new perspective. This is what excited Shusterman about the idea because it was a way of dealing with these issues in a completely different way and so make everyone, regardless of what one’s position is, think about the issues again.

The Unwound Trilogy is about this futuristic society where abortion is illegal, but parents can choose to terminate their children between the ages of 13 and 18. And why they can rationalize doing that is that these kids aren’t being killed…. They’re being “unwound” or being used for their body parts.

Does he think it’s possible for a future to be the way he depicts in Unwind? Shusterman told Adolescent Literacy, “I certainly hope not. I think it is a warning of what could happen if things are left to go to extremes. If two sides on this issue or any issue, start fighting so bitterly that it’s no longer about the issue, but it’s about how much one side hates the other….”

When asked by YA Highway why he elected not to write a dystopian novel with flying cars and super computers, Shusterman replied that he had no interest in writing a story that was not grounded in reality. To him, Unwind is about our society and how things operate when things go wrong. “Spaceships and flying cars, that’s fun, but it doesn’t excite me enough to spend a year of my life writing about it.”

Shusterman has already written one trilogy that deals with the issue of life and death. Everlost dealt with the issue about these kids trapped between life and death in a fantastical kind of way. Now he’s writing a second trilogy, one which deals with the issue in a more serious and frightening way.

In case you’re interested in his own theology about heaven and hell, Shusterman reveals that according to the way he was raised, there were really only a few possibilities of what happens to one in the hereafter. “Option one, it turns out you’re less of a miserable person then you thought you were and you go to heaven. Option two, you’re not quite the wonderful person you thought you were and you go to the other place that people these days spell with double hockey sticks. There is a third version called purgatory, which is a kinder, gentler version of the place down under. Purgatory is God’s version of a timeout — temporary flames of woe.”

PS Although I have been calling the Unwind books a trilogy, rumor has it a fourth book will be released in 2014. If that happens, the Unwind books will become a Quartet. For the longest time, the series has also been labeled The Unwind Trilogy but apparently it might become known as The Dystology Quartet.

Tomorrow I’ll post my thoughts about Unwholly the second book in the The Unwind Trilogy. Save the date: September 16!

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Summer Reviews

Books can take connect us with strangers, take us to unique places, and introduce us to new ideas. They can also offer hope in a chaotic world. And so I must share what I read!

Each week, I’ll introduce you to religious books, Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, or diversity books. Some I’ll review as singles and others as part of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Joni: The unforgettable story of a young woman’s struggle against quadriplegia & depression by Joni Eareckson
  • The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary by Samantha Glen
  • Brothers in hope : the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan–refugees by Mary Williams
  • The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee

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