Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Unwind: Unimpressed

This book (and series) has been on my TR list for a long time.  I've been meaning to get to it.  The cover and title unsettled me, and I never felt in the mood for a book I suspected promised some disturbing content. Then one of the young women in the youth group I kick with said she'd read it and thought I'd like it, so I bumped it up my list.  Well...it wasn't worth the wait.  Colour me disappointed.
  • There are three perspectives, and all are equally interesting.  The one thing this novel gave me was narrative and pace.  I was satisfied that the story advanced quickly and clearly. 
  • But dat crazy premise...it was so hard to buy into.  And this is coming from someone who applauded a cyborg Cinderella.  The problem is, that is an imaginative suspension of disbelief, and this book requires an ethical one.  I could not shelve my ethics nor my faith in humanity as a whole; I couldn't believe the world could ever come to this particular brand of a nightmare.  When I saw I was almost finished I thought, "I should've gotten over it by now and be lost in the story and forget how it's crazy, but I can't.  It's absurd."
  • The attempts at humour are weak or gross.
  • The writing feels clumsy, especially in dialogue.  Occasionally (I remember two instances right now) a great metaphor or slice of imagery gives me some hope and makes me wonder if I've being too tough on Shusterman.  But the book finished, and only two such moments were in my mind.  There are so many cases of showing and then telling to reveal the characters or twists.  Each time I hoped it would stay moderately clever, something would then be spelled out after already being revealed.  There are a few cases where we are caught up on the dialogue that's taken place between a group instead of the dialogue being written...and the conversation is an important one.  Instead of seeming efficient, it felt lazy; I'd missed out on a good, juicy pow-wow and instead been given a recap.  Then I realised I hadn't missed out on anything juicy, because I didn't find any of the conversations in the book juicy; it was precisely what it failed to deliver.  I missed out on some other author writing a juicy pow-wow.  Conversations in Unwind achieve what is necessary, they didn't amuse me.  No wonder shortcuts were taken, they don't appear to be Shusterman's forte.  Sometimes the writing reads like stage instructions instead of narration
  • The attempts at creating a world and its culture are so close to being great, but fall short in depth and reasoning.  This is probably linked to the flawed premise; when the underpinning philosophy for everything doesn't work for me, it's pretty hard to accept the weight it's bearing.  There are some kernels of brilliant ideas...I didn't connect with their execution.
  • I can't relate to the characters' rationale and nothing about them resonated or rang true with me.  In particular, I found the female character inconsistent and disappointing. 
  • There are a few goofs, but I actually could disregard little things that didn't work pretty well. 
  • In terms of resolution -- gah.  It's too tidy.  Instead of experiencing satisfying wish/prediction-fulfillment I would go,"No he won't, he wouldn't..he did."  Gag.  
  • Oh, and there is disturbing content (handled quite tactfully), the threat of sexual violence (but no sensuality), and some foul language.
If this book appeals/appealed to you, I recommend reading Partials or The House of the Scorpion. (Both feature better much treatment of loosely-related themes. Others a fair bit better: Maladapted, The Program, and Uglies.  I won't be finishing this series.
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