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  • Megan Wolf

Author Highlight: Neal Shusterman

How would you like to read books by an author who is not afraid to write on topics that either make you stop and think or make you slightly uncomfortable? Then look no further than Neal Shusterman. I first read his books when I was in high school and my brother introduced me to his Unwind series, a dystopian novel where parents can have their children, ages 13-18, “unwound” to have their body parts donated. They aren’t considered “dead” in this series, because at no point in the process do they actually die, at least by the standards of this universe. This decision came about after The Second Civil War over reproductive rights where it was decided that all life was important until the age of 13. Many of the children that were “unwound” were troublemakers or raised to be “unwound”. The entire premise of this series was disturbing enough to stick with me still to this day, but it also makes the reader stop and think about what can truly constitute “life.”

Cover photo of Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Now I promise that not all his books are quite that disturbing, but a few of them do touch on interesting topics. He writes mostly teen books with a fair bit of them being set in a dystopian world. His Scythe trilogy is the most recent one I read where humanity lives in an almost utopia. There is no death, war, disease, hunger, or really any challenge facing humanity. If someone does happen to die, 99% of the time they can be revived and they are able to age themselves back to however young they want to be. This is all achieved by a very advanced AI who essentially watches over humanity and takes care of them, without being evil. “The Thunderhead,” as it’s called, makes sure to provide all the basic needs, including basic income to everyone, so no one, technically, has to work. To maintain control over the population, people called “scythes” are in charge of picking random people to kill, or “glean” as they call it, and each scythe has a different method for choosing who to glean. Due to this nature of death, humanity has stopped fearing it. Life isn’t 100% perfect, but it’s pretty close. The result of this is now no one has any reason to strive for anything. Everything is handed to them. This leads to a lot of people living meaningless lives until they eventually get tired of it. It puts things into perspective on just how much humanity uses that push to make something of themselves, while they can, to create and achieve.

Cover of Tesla's Attic, book 1 in the Accelerati Trilogy

Other books he has written include Dry, a book based in California exploring what life would be like if they ran out of drinkable water. It follows Alyssa who sets out to find both drinkable water and her parents after they disappear while on their own quest to find water. This was another one of his recommended to me that I enjoyed immensely. The Accelerati Trilogy breaks away from his more serious books. It follows Nick Slate who moves into an old Victorian house with his family. He discovers that the attic is filled with objects that are more than they appear.

Interested in checking out other books Neal Shusterman has written? Feel free to check out our catalog or ask us! The foyer area at the east parking lot entrance is currently open to patrons for staff to grab items or answer questions, or you can always give us a call.

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