bookblogging · Books · Dystopia · Romance · Young Adult

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman


The fact that I started this book so soon after finishing the first one in the series (Unwind) is an indication of how much I really liked it. Unwind, that is. And the thing with books like Unwind (aka pretty spectacular books) is that they set the bar pretty high for what follows.

I didn’t not like UnWholly. I just didn’t like it as much as Unwind.

I’m not going to get into (again) all the things I liked about Unwind (you can read my discussion post here) but I will say this: I was expecting more of that magic here.

This felt like a watered down, diluted version of what I wanted, of what I was craving. The story had twists and sub-plots, but not enough. I managed to guess what was about to happen in more instances than one, something that hadn’t happened in Unwind. Unwind took me by surprise plenty of times and I really enjoyed the unexpected turns the story took.

I also thought some of the newer characters – especially Miracolina –  seemed wholly unnecessary. I didn’t think she brought anything new to the table; we’ve already had the whole holy, noble tithe attitude with Lev and we’ve seen it abandoned. At the same time, I thought the point of views of Cam and Nelson were absolutely fascinating. With Cam, it was wonderful to see things from his point of view. Not to mention his adorable yet borderline obsessive feelings for Risa. With Nelson, it brought to light once again how different situations affect everyone involved differently and they walk irreparably changed individuals. Trace was a nice touch, as well.

While I liked some of these newer additions, I was sad to see the previous ones take a backseat. Connor lost some of his (legendary) invincibility and Lev seemed lost, without a purpose, throughout the whole book. This made me especially sad because I really, really liked Connor. I wanted him to be more dashing, more cunning, more heroic.

The ending also felt somewhat rushed and chaotic; it succeeds in driving home the point that the Juvies are essentially up against unorganized, untrained, frightened teenagers. But it left me oddly dissatisfied. I guess, like Unwind, I was looking forward to a somewhat happy ending. You win some, you lose some, but you walk away to fight another day. Or something like that.

As I read the above words again and again, I realize this has turned into a rant. I seem to concentrating solely on the things I didn’t like. While I had not intended it to come out like this, I suppose my disappointment with the way the book turned out could not be suppressed.

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