I have a very strange  history with UnStrung by Neal Shusterman. Though it takes place after the first book, and was published in 2015,  I didn’t know about it until finishing the entire main series, therefore there were things in the main series that I didn’t fully have context for because I hadn’t read this novella. I was able to pick up on some of it, but reading UnStrung certainly helped my understanding of those portions of the series. This is unlike my friend, who read it when it came out, and had all of the given information. They were very different experiences, but it does not change how good this novella is.

Along with being published alone, it was later included in the UnBound collection of novella’s for the Unwind series. It’s in the middle of the book, reflecting where it’s placed in the timeline of  the first book. The story it tells is of what, in part, Lev was up to between leaving  Cyrus, and showing up at the Graveyard. Since you’ll have at least read the first book before reading this, you’ll have some idea of where this is leading Lev (not good places), but it still leaves things for the reader to be shocked by. With the new setting and characters, as well as all of the new information added about the world, there’s much to be gained by reading this novella. One of my favorite aspects of the story though is in the writing itself; the way Shusterman describes music.

The character Wil is brilliant at the guitar, and the way Neal describes the way he plays is beautiful. He manages to describe the music, without actually describing the music. By writing about what the music makes the listeners feel, he let’s the reader feel it in whatever music they would use to feel the emotions. Doing this, of course, also allows Shusterman to write about music whether he knows about music or not. This is a small part of the story in the long run, but it plays a big part in connecting with Wil, which is very important for both this novella, and the series as a whole. 

That’s another thing I like about this novella, that I wouldn’t have known about if I had read UnStrung before reading the rest of the series; you don’t need to have read this to enjoy the rest of the series, or to understand  the later parts involving these characters. Sure, reading it certainly helps, and adds to the world, but, at least to my experience, it isn’t necessary. However, if you like the world Shusterman created, even if you’re in the middle of the Unwind series, and you want more of  it, I still recommend UnStrung.