Monday, January 14, 2013

Neal Shusterman

This week's review book, Unwind, was written by Neal Shusterman. If you've ever spent a sizable chunk of time in the young adult fiction section of a library or bookstore, you've probably seen his name.

Shusterman was born and raised in Brooklyn, and was an avid reader and writer from a young age. At eight years old, he sent a letter to E. B. White to tell him that he believed Charlotte's Web called for a sequel. (He received a response from White telling him that the book was fine as it was, sequel-less, but that Shusterman should continue to pursue writing.)

He attended UC Irvine, where he wrote a popular humor column for the school's paper. Less than a year after he graduated, he had a book deal, plus he was hired to write a movie script.

Shusterman has written a few dozen novels, so I won't cover all of them. If you want to know more about his work, check out his website.

Everlost was published in 2006 (and its sequels Everwild and Everfound were in 2009 and 2011, respectively). It is about Nick and Allie's souls, stuck in the limbo called Everlost, and their efforts to get out of there.


Unwind is the book we will be reviewing on Friday, and it was published in 2007. The rest of the series is UnStrung (2012), UnWholly (also 2012) and UnSouled (due in 2013). Unwind is about a society where, after a war, the agreement is settled that abortion will be illegal, but if, after a child reaches a certain age, there is reason to remove the child from society, they can be "unwound" and their organs will be harvested to help others.

The Schwa Was Here was published in 2004 and won lots of awards (like most of Shusterman's books do). It's one of those high-school-adventure books. I'm sure there's a trade term for it, but that's how I think of them. It's told from the point of view of Antsy Bonano (which partially explains the title of the sequel, Antsy Does Times) about Calvin Schwa, who was basically invisible, but Antsy noticed - and befriended - him.

The Schwa was Here

The Eyes of Kid Midas came out in 1992. I am sorely disappointed that I didn't read it back then. (Or at least shortly after that; I was in first-second grade in 1992, and this is intended for 6-9th grade readers.) A downtrodden, bullied kid finds a magical pair of sunglasses that turn his desires into reality. I've heard that the story's resolution is a bit of a cop-out, but personally, I have no problems with deus ex machinas (machinae?). That's the beauty of fiction; those can exist.

The Eyes of Kid Midas

Like I said before, that's not even half of Shusterman's work. Besides the dozens of novels besides those, he also wrote for the "Animorphs" and "Goosebumps" TV series, plus he wrote the Disney Channel movie "Pixel Perfect." If you're the kind of person who enjoys reading long lists of awards and accolades, here is his. Based on his website, it doesn't look like he's slowing down anytime soon.

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