Who is Neal Shusterman? • Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. • After spending his junior and senior years of high school at the American School of Mexico City, Neal went on to UC Irvine. • Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal, and was hired to write a movie script. • In the years since, Neal has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer. • As a full-time writer, he claims to be his own hardest task-master, always at work creating new stories to tell. • His books have received many awards from organizations such as the International Reading Association, and the American Library Association, as well as garnering a myriad of state and local awards across the country.
What’s Unwind all about? Unwind is a dystopian thriller by Neal Shusterman that follows three teens on the run from a government that believes “unwinding”, or body harvesting, is an alternate solution to abortions and unwanted teens. Unwinding is also a choice for extremely religious families who want to tithe one of their teens. Although controversial in topic, this disturbing novel inspires deep thought about organ donation, abortion, and one’s personal right to make decisions regarding his or her body. (http://childrensbooks.about.com)
What’s Dystopian? • Dystopian is the opposite of utopian; it is often a utopia gone sour, an imaginary place or state where everything is as bad as it could possibly be.
Dystopian Novels • Dystopian novels usually include elements of contemporary society and are seen as a warning against some modern trend. • Writers use them as cautionary tales, in which humankind is put into a society that may look inviting on the surface but in reality, is a nightmare.
Examples of Dystopian Novels • Hunger Games Trilogy • Maze Runner Trilogy • The Giver • Unwind Trilogy
Well, What’s Utopian? • In 1516 Sir Thomas More made up the word “utopia” for the island society in his political essay. • In More’s Utopia, every individual thrives, and injustice, poverty, and inequality no longer exist. More coined the word 'utopia' from the Greek ou-topos meaning 'no place' or 'nowhere'. • But this was a pun (a play on words) because the almost identical Greek word eu-topos means a good place. • So at the very heart of the word is a vital question: Can a perfect world ever be realized?
Examples of Real Life Utopian Societies • Religious • Communistic • Agricultural War is Peace Freedom is Slavery Ignorance is Strength
Religious Utopias • Freedom of religion attracted European groups to America who were persecuted in their own countries. • Some colonists hoped to form Utopian societies, self-containing religious communities, removed from the perceived “vices” found in overcrowded cities. • In these utopian societies, all aspects of people's lives were governed by their faith.
Religious Utopias • Example: the Shakers – a religious group who fled to the United States in 1774 to escape persecution. They formed a tight knit community, which required celibacy, and the separation of men and women in daily life. Their religious expression included productive labor, peace, the equality of the sexes, and a ritual noted for its dancing and shaking.
Communistic Utopias • The Soviet Union represented the creation of a political utopia on a larger scale than had ever been attempted before. • Communism was seen as the creation of a working society in which all give according to their means and take according to their needs. This aspect promised the future freedom of all people in a world free of oppression and inequality.
Communistic Utopias • By the end of the 1920s, the disadvantages of Communism in the Soviet Union were evident. • Joseph Stalin forced peasants to work on the land, forced intellectuals into prison camps, burned books, and contributed to the death of millions. • He used mass media to create a godlike image of himself and any opponents were executed or deported.
Agricultural Utopias • In the 1960s, thousands of people formed communes in Europe and the U.S. in an attempt to redefine the institutions of marriage, family and economy. • People headed "back to the land“, questioning the benefits of a society based on technology and competition.
Agricultural Utopias • While most of those communities disbanded, many have survived, emphasizing economic and social cooperation. • Some communities are separate from the rest of society while others hope to serve as an example of a better lifestyle to the rest of the world.