What I find really interesting about every book in the Unwind series after the first is that they weren’t planned from the start. Neal wrote the first book, and after he was asked to write more, he did, starting with UnWholly. However, all of the new characters, and their connections to old characters, were not exactly set up from the jump. This does not mean, though, that everything doesn’t sync up well or that anything is out of place. In fact, it is the complete opposite, in my opinion.
First of all, since this is a continuation, we get to see how the events of the last book have affected all of our favorite characters, both physically and mentally. Especially for Connor and Risa, they cannot just move on from what happened to them. This isn’t a restart. Risa is still paralyzed, and Connor still has a reminder of what happened every time he looks at his right arm, and those are just the obvious stuff. They both also have more responsibilities at the graveyard, as well as want to do to do more to help stop Unwinding for good. There is more, but you’ll have to find it out for yourself. First of all, since this is a continuation, we get to see how the events of the last book have affected all of our favorite characters, both physically and mentally. Especially for Connor and Risa, they cannot just move on from what happened to them. This isn’t a restart. Risa is still paralyzed, and Connor still has a reminder of what happened every time he looks at his right arm, and those are just the obvious stuff. They both also have more responsibilities at the graveyard, as well as want to do to do more to help stop Unwinding for good. There is more, but you’ll have to find it out for yourself. And this is with just two of the characters. There are so many more, including ones we’ve actually met before, but very briefly.
One of my favorite things about the Unwind series not being planned out from the start is how Shusterman manages to use characters that, if you only read the first book, you’d think you’d never see again, and make them impactful and interesting, or more so than they already were. Without serious spoilers, one of these characters that sticks out for me is the JuviCop that Connor tranches in the first chapter of the entire series. He becomes vengeful and goes after Connor and other characters, turning into quite the antagonist. There is another character that is more important than Nelson, but you’ll have to find that out for yourself. What I can tell you about are the three new main characters.
Three new main characters are added to the series in the second novel: Mason Michael “Starkey,” Miracolina, and Cam. The third new main character is unique, but the other two, despite their similarities to Connor, and Lev, still add to the world and differentiate themselves from their counterparts, mainly in their behavior and choices. For instance, Starkey, unlike Connor, does not truly care for others. Instead, he will do anything to get revenge on those whom he believes have wronged him. Marcolina, though she is a tithe, she was not born under ordinary circumstances. She was born to save her brother, who was dying of cancer. After this, however, her parents decided that she should give her entire self to others and made her a tithe. Cam, on the other hand, is completely different: he is entirely made up of unwound kids.
Out of all the new main characters, Cam is definitely my favorite. I love the spin that Neal puts on the classic Frankenstein. He uses Cam to further the discussion of when people believe life begins and what it really means to be human. I also love Cam’s psychology.
Because he is what they call a “rewound,” he has memories from many people, so, at first, he doesn’t even know who he is because he has no memories that are truly his own. Even after he gains awareness, he still questions who and what he is while everyone else is doing the same. Another reason they do this is because of what Cam is meant to be. He was built to be the best of humanity, but since he’s, by society’s standards, the worst of humanity, no one knows which he is. However, this also makes him more human than people assume. Among all this, Shusterman manages to use Cam to make another connection to many different characters, both directly and indirectly. This adds a lot of great mystery and intrigue to the story. These lead to questions asked by both the reader and the characters, both old and new.
That’s what, in my opinion, the addition of the new books adds to the Unwind series, intrigue. They build on the society, and world Shusterman created, answering questions and bringing up a lot more, making the reader want to go further into the series. If, after reading the first book, you’d like to learn more about how the society of Unwind changes because of the influence of both old and new characters, I highly recommend starting with UnWholly.