Imagine a law that forbids abortion, but permits the “unwinding” of teenagers. In this dystopian-like novel by Neal Shusterman, Congress has enacted the Bill of Life that allows parents to “abort” their children between the ages of 13 and 17. Troublemakers, orphans, or simply unwanted teens are written off by their parents, sent to harvest camps where they endure one operation that disassembles their body, 99% of which is donated to people who need those body parts to live or to look better.
Connor goes AWOL after finding the unwinding contract his parents signed, and the chain of events that follows is even more dramatic than the highway crash his running away caused.
This novel was terrifying. The Bill of Life was enacted because the pro-choice and anti-abortion groups were going to war, and retroactive abortion (where body parts went to those who needed them) was the only viable solution. Could this happen today?
I liked Shusterman’s writing style. The dialogue wasn’t unnecessarily long and drawn-out, nor was it imprecise to the point where readers did not feel involved in the conversation. It was spot-on teen talk and above-average self-discovery. Some parts were confusing, such as when Connor was trying to figure out who killed “The Goldens”…I think there were too many cooks in the kitchen in that situation. But overall the book is one that I will be recommending to angst-y teens who like a bit of grit and anarchism.