Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

In a perfect world mothers would all want their babies, and strangers would open up their homes to the unloved. In a perfect world everything would be either black or white, right or wrong, and everyone would know the difference. But this isn’t a perfect world. The problem is people who think it is.”

Unwind was a read like nothing I’ve come across so far. It will stay with you and have you thinking long after the last page has been read. Before reading this book I didn’t think I would like it. I felt like the concept of unwinding was just so out there that there was no way the author would be able to make this believable.  What I thought was really amazing was that the author was able to build tension in the story without all the action scenes and plot twist after plot twist. The whole idea of unwinding and the fact that the reader doesn’t find out what the actual process consist of is enough tension by itself. The world building was so spot on that after I started reading I didn’t question whether or not it was possible because I was in too engrossed in the story. I really thought Shusterman was brilliant in raising questions on pro life and pro choice without taking a side or forcing the reader to pick a side. Instead he raised important questions like when does an unborn child have a soul? At conception or when it’s first loved by the parent? When giving up a child does the parent feel guilt or relief afterwards? The book wasn’t so much about death as it was the human consciousness. It also tackles issues such as religion, terrorism, politics, and ageism. The switching point of view between the characters made it hard to connect with them in the beginning but the collision course they end up on is so shocking and sets off a series of events that can possibly change their world. This book also contains one of the most disturbing scenes I have read in a YA even for one in the dystopian genre. I recommend this book as well as the sequel UnWholly which can both be found at Amazon.com. I give this a 5/5 rating.

Short Stories by William Pettersen

Today the Bookworm brings you two short story reviews from the author William Peterson.

To think that there are no other sentient beings in the universe borders on vanity.
To think that other sentient beings would be any less prone to violence and war than are we, borders on naivety.
Collateral damage is a reality with any conflict.
What if there is undelivered ordinance…stray bullets…from distant, cosmic conflicts floating through space like wandering asteroids or long-period comets?
What if bystander Earth was the victim of one of these…errant shots?

Tim stopped at the corner of the vehicle as all the color drained from his face. He hit a button on the phone, then put it back to his ear to listen to his messages. “Tim, you’ve got to call me. Don’t come here,” Professor Winston began immediately. “It’s not a fossil Tim, it’s something else…something made, or engineered. We think it’s a weapon, some kind d of chemical weapon. The bright side is that it proves there is intelligent life out there and other water worlds, but it also shows they must have the same propensity for destruction as we do, maybe even more so.

This is a creepy, amazing short story! It starts out with a major catastrophe and quickly things start to take an even more disastrous turn. What Tim thinks may be an amazing find that will set him up with his next paycheck turns into something completely horrific and unexpected. The story takes a very dark turn and the ending is amazing and unbelievable. I think the author should take this short story and make it into a full novel because I would love to see how the world turned out after what happens. I feel like he took my cake from me just as I was about to eat a fork full. I want more! I feel like this was just the beginning.

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Marcus is venturing out of his permanent shelter to check the day’s traps and possibly hunt seals on the ice, when he discovers a nearly dead, young female whale researcher out on the ice alone and unconscious. After bringing her back from the frozen brink, she reveals some disturbing details of an armed takeover of her research facility, sounding like the earmarks of a terrorist attack, though nothing up here was of any strategic or political value.

Upon inspecting the scene for himself, Marcus uncovers an ongoing struggle that has lasted for thousands of years, much worse than any terror plot, holding mankind’s future in the balance. With time running out, limited resources and only a frozen stranger to help, he must stop a terrible bloodline of ancient tyrants and evil men bent on world domination and total destruction, before they kill the last magical creatures on Earth.

Maddie sat down and propped herself up against a sheet of ice protruding from the pack, gun in one hand, binoculars in the other, and resigned herself to closing her eyes for just a minute or two. The shivering stopped and she wasn’t even that cold now, she was almost comfortable, and while closing her eyes felt so good she smiled a little, she knew very well she would not be waking up this time.

Mythical was just as amazing as Errant Shot. It was a heart pounding read that clutches onto you and pulls you in from the beginning of the story. You won’t believe the plot twist. There’s fantasy, evil, violence and compassion all brilliantly wrapped in this short story with an unbelievable ending. William Peterson is an incredible story teller and his stories are not to be passed up. For me both stories are a 5/5 and I recommend them greatly. They are available at smashwords and amazon.

Rook by J.C. Andrijeski

Like most humans Allie’s spent her life distancing herself from Seers, a race of human-like beings discovered on Earth in the early 1900s. That changes after catching her boyfriend in the arms of a hot band groupie, and Allie goes from San Francisco artist slacker to the girl wearing the GPS anklet in about sixteen seconds. That’s the least of her problems, though, compared to the shock of discovering who—and what—she really is.

Yanked out of her life by the mysterious Revik, Allie finds out that her blood may not be as indisputably human as she always thought. Through Revik she learns the truth: that Seers are nothing like she thought, that the world is nothing like it appears to be…and that she has far more in common with Seers than she ever wanted to believe.

Now on the run from a group of anti-human, terrorist Seers called Rooks and her own human government, Allie must learn to navigate a secret shadow world behind her own, a world filled with superhuman Seers with their own battles raging…and their own agendas around the fate of humanity. When Allie’s family and friends get dragged into that war, things suddenly get a lot more personal, and Allie learns she may be the only one who can stop it.

My grandmother warned me once that nothing in life is ever secure. No matter how stable, boring or predictable the different components may seem…everything can be gone with a single bad decision.

This is the type of book that people will absolutely love. The world building was absolutely amazing! I have never read a book like this where there is so much detail put into the world building. Considering the author had to show the differences between humans and seers this was no easy task. The seers have their own myths, history, world, and language that is completely beyond humans and what they can comprehend and the author pulled it off magnificently. Andrijeski has taken aspects of different religions and cultures and created a unique ideology for this world. The interwoven lives of these two species is revealed and showcased in amazing plot twists! The concept is so original there is no other book I have read that can be compared to this one. The character development was also off the charts. Each character was  important to the story. For example Revik has such a complex history that he could easily have a story of his own. The dynamics and relationships of the Seers like Vash, Terian, and Gailath is something all together amazing by itself. As for bad guys Terian has to be the creepiest one I have ever read in a story like this. His ability to split himself into different bodies is exciting and crazy at the same time. Allie is one of the most likeable females characters I’ve come across is some time. She is such a smart ass and so clueless about who is she is that her behavior is laugh out loud funny and yet you empathize with her as well. She has been thrown into a world where even though she is a Seer she is still something different. Even within their world. She is trying to navigate being the Bridge and what that means while dealing with Revik and their relationship and lack thereof.

I give this story 3/5 rating. While the world building is great, it is also very confusing. Added with the fact that the point of view switches and it takes a while to get used to it. I was a little more than halfway through the story before I was really able to understand what was going on. There were times in the book where things went on for too long for me and big questions where addressed but never fully explained. Such as the marriage of Allie and Revik. I don’t understand why it happened, how it happened, or why it was a big secret from Allie. Or why it was they got nauseas around each other.

Overall it really was an good story. I will be reading the rest of the series to find out how everything turns out and I would recommend this book.