It’s bittersweet when a journey comes to an end. I loved the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was sad to watch that chapter of my life (pun intended) come to an end, but I was very satisfied.
I feel the same way about UnDivided, the final book in the Unwind “dystology” by Neal Shusterman. Since I read the first book on a whim, I haven’t been able to stop raving about the series. The second book, UnWholly, was everything a good sequel should be. I struggled with book 3, UnSouled, because the fast pace from previous installments became markedly absent. Now that I’ve read UnDivided, the story has been brought to a perfect close, and I feel complete.
Beware: Spoilers for Unwind, UnWholly, and UnSouled begin now.
When UnDivided opens, we are back in Sonia’s basement safe house. The fugitives are getting restless sitting on top of their secret weapon. Argent knows exactly where Grace (and therefore Connor) is hiding, but when will he finally give up the info to Nelson? Lev has a safe place among the Arapaché, but what can he do now? Cam will soon be the property of the U.S. government, but now that his carefully cultivated world has been blown open, whose side is he really on? How far will the Stork Brigade go to spread their reign of terror under Lord Starkey? And how is the larger country responding to the churning political tide?
I was upset by the “surprise twist” at the end of UnSouled. An organ printer? We have 3-D printers now! Granted, we can’t print living human organs just yet, but I can see that becoming a possibility. I usually like some realism in my dystopias, but not quite that much. So I went into UnDivided with low expectations. I heard a rumor that books 3 and 4 started as one volume, but it got so unwieldy that the ironic decision was made to split it up. That would have required some padding of both books, and that’s probably what I noticed in UnSouled. I felt a similar unpleasant thickness to UnDivided at times, but there was just enough speed to keep me going. It did make the end feel rushed, though, since suddenly everything happened much more quickly! And boy, did a lot happen!
Despite my disappointment at the end of UnSouled, I was eager to wrap things up. I like finishing things. I wasn’t quite expecting how much richness Shusterman would work into this novel alone, though. His writing still stirs up beauty inside a tale of such darkness. He still has some new characters for us to meet. There are still great horrors to behold (as if retroactive abortion, a.k.a. unwinding, wasn’t bad enough). More incredible escapes keep our heroes out of the grasp of death or division. And for me, a reader who does not like politics, the politics were perfect: not perfect in general, but perfect for Unwind.
Two of my favorite features of the Unwind books are Shusterman’s lyrical turns of phrase and the philosophical meditations that sneak in among the teenage drama. I did not leave this book disappointed. This series is the smartest take on the abortion wars I’ve ever seen. I wish it were more widely read! There were many moments when I ended a chapter amazed at Shusterman’s ability to put the inner workings of human nature right on the page. Sometimes I was inspired, sometimes horrified. So many points of view are expressed through so many characters. It’s fantastic.
In the end, I am satisfied with the Unwind series and with its story. There is another companion book, Unbound, which I will read eventually, but I’m good for now. I’m content to become an Unwind evangelist. These books need to make it into more hands, and we need to acknowledge the direction our society is heading.