Slightly Serious Book Reviews: The Unwind Dystology


WARNING: After I finished writing this all, I realized I have a bunch of spoilers. Do not read if you don’t want spoilers. Or just read it anyways and complain about how I spoiled the entire series for you. Whatever floats your boat.

SECOND WARNING: I focus on characters in this one. Don’t like, don’t read. Simple.

Well, I just finished UnDivided, and I can honestly say the Unwind Dystology is the best dystopia series I’ve ever encountered.

Yeah, I was a giant Hunger Games fan and also apparently the Giver is also considered dystopia (which I get, but at the same time, don’t really), but I like the Unwind books better.

For me, the Hunger Games had much deeper meaning that most people didn’t understand. All the attention was focused to the love triangle and the lovey=dovey icky romance. And that wasn’t the interesting part. The interesting part was what the Hunger Games said about human nature and society’s flaws.

I liked the Giver’s premise (dystopian community + weird memories that you can experience + off on a journey trope + the fact that the main character’s name is Jonas, come on), but the ending. I could not get behind the sled on the hill and how that was supposedly Jonas’s original memory (sorry for spoilers) and WHY WAS THE SLED EVEN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

That’s a lot of strikethrough text. I got a little animated.

In my opinion, the reason the Unwind series is so great is the fact that they could happen. It’s creepily realistic. Society throwing away some kids so they could save others? That’s already happening.

Also, the fact that everything fits together. Creepily, almost. Every time a new character from someone else’s POV was introduced, I was super certain that character was connected to someone else, somehow.

Okay, so I was wrong with Austin. But he might’ve gone on to become part of someone else and they didn’t know.

Also, it’s my personal headcanon that either Risa has Tyler’s spine or Connor has one of his eyes. Alas, this personal headcanon has neither been confirmed nor denied. Ugh.

And then we have my favorite part of literature… CHARACTERS! I am in love with characters, because they are what make or break a story. See, you spend the entire story with the characters. You cannot read a book with one-dimensional, irritating, or bland characters.

I fell in love with basically everyone in the Unwind Dystology.

Connor? Yes. He’s a main character who isn’t a shoe box for the audience to see from. He has a personality. Connor might be the first main character who is one of my favorite characters. That’s just fact.

Risa? You go, girl. She’s at the center of a love triangle which I’ll ignore, because ew romance, but she kicks some serious butt. She’s a really nice person, but she also takes no nonsense. And must I talk about the fact that she has flaws?

That’s right. The magical f word: flaws. Characters need flaws and weaknesses as much as they need strengths and abilities. I like to call this the Goldilocks property in my head; not too hot, not too cold, just right.

Lev? Okay, so Lev might be my favorite. So fight me. Little kid tossed into a cruel world from his pampered past, who turned himself into a walking bomb only to not detonate and instead shave his head and tattoo the names of the unwound on his body to take a stand at the base of the Statue of Liberty? I can get behind that.

Agh. Lev is awesome. And the magical r word: relationships. I don’t really care about romantic relationships unless they’re out of the ordinary, so I’ve made a list off the top of my head of all the people Lev has realistic relationships with. Pastor Dan, his brother Marcus, Miracolina, Connor, Risa, Grace, Elina, Kele, Wil… Need I go on?

No, I need not. Let’s continue.

Sonia? I can’t even. Sonia is awesome. I love how she’s old, but she isn’t just some old person whose past revolves around dusty cobwebs shaped into some happy past weaker than my left pinky. I love her story. And while I was skeptical of Connor knowing she was Janson’s wife just by her first name alone, I dealt with it. I’m still skeptical.

Those letters though. I’m always going to be irrationally attached to those letters.

Now, for Hayden. Hayden is also one of my favorites, because sass + snark + sarcasm is a recipe for my favorite character more than half of the time.

Also, Hayden is so incredibly complex. And maybe I’m just sleep-deprived and crazy while I say this and it’s already been addressed, but WHY DIDN’T LAST YEAR COUNT, HAYDEN? WHY? And also I’m super proud of him for organizing the meeting for unwinding non-supporters. And his podcast is hilarious.

Roland? I won’t even start with the complexity of this guy. First of all, his backstory is so awesome so is Hayden’s, I forgot to say that and then everything builds on it.

And his unwinding? Oh my god. That was really scary but also really thought-provoking and amazing. That sounds like I’m crazy. I’m not. At least, I don’t think so.

AND THAT ONE SCENE WHERE HIS PARENTS GET HIS LETTER BACK??? Wow. And also super heart wrenching because he got unwound. Sorry.

I was pretty sure I was going to miss a bunch of characters so I looked them all up. Now I have too many characters on my hands but I’ll try to sort which ones I want to write about. Bear with me.

CyFi? And Tyler? Yep, yep, yep. Like all of the other characters I feel like a broken record but it’s all true, CyFi (and that part of Tyler in his brain) is incredibly realistic and well-thought-out. The Tyler Walker Foundation? The Tyler folk? Nice. I want a story about Tyler going skydiving. Someone write me that story so I can live in peace.

It appears now is the time to talk about the Admiral. Cue the scary effects. And… Humphrey Dunfee! And with Harlan comes Emby because come on, Emby was awesome. But conflicted. But still really awesome.

The Admiral’s story is also really cool. And that one dentures scene is just really funny for me.

But the party where all the people with the parts of Harlan showed up like the Tyler folk was probably the sweetest thing in the books. I seriously thought they were going to make like the story and chop them all up and rewind them back into Harlan.

Well, I guess that’s what you get. Expect a bunch of bloodshed and crazies, get a sweet party.

Now, I guess now is the time to talk about the dreaded Starkey, Stork Lord and really crazy magic leader guy who I can’t help but have as one of my favorites.

Storks though. I’m super pro-Stork and pro-State-Wards. And pro-AWOLs. But I guess that’s what the books do to you.

This kid is so crazy. And pretty egotistical. He thinks he’s a God and is willing to sell a bunch of other kids into unwinding in order to save himself. But somehow he’s almost my most favorite. I don’t even know.

Oh yeah, and before I forget: Bam. She’s awesome. I totally agree with Hayden that she’d be way better at leading than Starkey, because, c’mon, Starkey has problems. And Starkey thinks he himself has no problems, and that his problems are everyone else’s fault.

Also, the fact that her name is Bambi but she goes by Bam because who names their kid Bambi?

Trace? To be honest, I could never really get behind him. He’s not a favorite, because he doesn’t have a personality beside being a boeuf. But I guess that’s really how it was supposed to be.

R.I.P. Trace. Also, R.I.P. Starkey. I miss Starkey.

Elina, Chal, Pivane, Kele, Una, and Wil? Yes. I loved them all, even in Elina’s confusing Arapache metaphors and Kele’s strange knowledge of kinkajous and Una’s crazy chainsaw action.

Just so you know, I totally thought Wil and Cam were somehow related. Just so you know.

Also, can I mention how sad I was at Wil’s self-sacrifice. And how much I liked Una and Wil’s wedding.

Grace and Argent? They were both absolutely perfect. Grace, who’s “low-cortical” but still the smartest in every group, and Argent, whose object of dysfunctional hero-worship changes all the time, have probably the most dysfunctional I like that word, if you haven’t noticed by now sibling relationship in the world. It’s probably more dysfunctional than mine.

But the best thing about Grace and Argent is the fact that neither of them are inherently good or bad. Yeah, Grace refused to go on a mission that helped stop unwinding, but she also saved the printer from a burning building. Argent chained Connor up in his storm cellar and abused his sister, but he also played a key role in the plan to get Connor alive again.

Motives being, of course, his dysfunctional hero-worship of Connor.

Which brings us to our final two characters, Cam and Roberta. We’ll start with Roberta cause she’s way easier.

I hate her.

She may be the only character in the entire series who I hate with a fiery passion because SHE SUCKS.

If I ever got to meet Roberta, I’d probably be escorted out of that meeting in a straitjacket. Cause I’d try to murder her.

How doth she suck? Let me listeth the ways.

  1. Is generally an uncaring person.
  2. Emotionally manipulates Cam.
  3. Tells Cam that his life doesn’t belong to him.
  4. Cares more about research than Cam’s well-being.
  6. Says she cares about Cam, but when the General tells her he doesn’t need Cam, she manipulates him into believing he needs to die.

Okay, but she was also a mother figure to Cam and in the first half of their relationship, was pretty cool. Like all other characters, not necessarily good or bad.

But I still don’t like her.

Then we have Cam, the rewind. I really liked Cam, but for someone who’s made of the parts of the throwaway children of society, WHY IS HE STILL SO NAIVE? AND WHY DOES HE HAVE NO STRUGGLES WITH GETTING HIS “INTERNAL COMMUNITY” TO WORK TOGETHER?

I get that not all unwinds are unwound for a good reason, but you’re expecting me to believe that out of 99 societal outcasts, none of them were “bad kids?” Or at least a little weathered and guarded?

Jesus, it’s like he’s 100% content tithe material.

WAIT. WHAT IF HE WAS? Headcanon accepted, Jonah.

But aren’t tithes less athletic because they didn’t train? And also, he had a part of Samson and a part of Wil, and neither of them were tithes. So headcanon crashes and burns.

But otherwise, I love Cam, and his “internal community,” and his struggles, and his blurting thing, and when he rebelled against Roberta on live-stream. I approve, Cam.

So, to summarize, I love the Unwind Dystology because of it’s realism I googled it and that’s the word and awesome characters. As a mental refresher, this is a Zach series.

tl;dr: I finished UnDivided, and the Unwind Dystology is the best. It’s super plausible but also all the characters are great. I love them all except Roberta, cause she sucks.


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