In this section, Neal takes us into an Unwind camp. Neal makes the camp resemble the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, because abortion is the same thing as genocide, clearly.
Risa and Connor are being guarded by a single Unwind Juvenile Officer. Given that Connor knocked down a similar officer about a month ago, stole his weapon, and escaped, their passive ineptitude here seems plot-convenient.
Nothing happens in this chapter.
We learn why Roland betrayed Connor and Risa -- there's a $500 reward for turning in an Unwind, and he hopes to get not just the money for them, but the money for all 400 Unwinds still at the Graveyard. The juvenile officer in charge of him pretends to be interested, but....
The officer tells Roland they already know all about the Graveyard, that it's a way to keep Unwind runaways off the street.
I mean, it's a nice plot twist, but entirely unbelievable. With all the profit they're making Unwind kids and selling their organs and skin and hair and so on to a hungry market, why would they leave 400 prime candidates untouched?
Off all three kids go to Unwind Camp.
This starts Part Six of the book, and Neal gives us an excerpt from a brochure that apparently markets the Unwind camps to parents thinking to cash in on their kids:
Each facility is privately owned, state licensed, and federally funded by your tax dollars. Regardless of the site you choose, you can feel confident that your Unwind will receive the finest possible care from our board-certified staff as they make their transition to a divided state.Privately owned, but also federally funded. The government is paying for
In Chapter 51, we get a description of the camps, especially the Happy Jack Camp where Connor, Risa, and Roland end up. They're brightly painted and filled with basketball, volleyball, and other exercise yards. The staff wear Hawaiian shirts, and the doctors wear bright yellow scrubs.
Everyone has already heard of Connor before he arrives -- he's the Akron AWOL, the one who took down a Juvenile Officer and managed to escape. He's a hero, like Humphrey Wossname.
The staff at Happy Jack are expecting Connor to start trouble right away. Usually a kid spends about three weeks at the camp before he's Unwound, but if Connor starts trouble, they can Unwind him at once.
This, again, is a plot point that only makes sense until you think about it. Given that they're going to Unwind Connor anyway, and given that they expect him to start trouble and want to quash that trouble ASAP, why not Unwind him right away?
Why give him time to start trouble, in other words?
I guess he's still got plot-armor.
Risa gets interviewed by an intake officer. They find out she can play the piano, and she's assigned to the Camp band. Like the orchestra at Auschwitz, they play music while the Unwinds are being escorted into the clinic to be Unwound. This special skill set means they can stay alive longer.
Get it? Get it?
This is a long chapter, but nothing happens except that while he's playing volleyball, Conner sees a group of Tithes come into camp. He thinks of Lev, but knows he can't be one of them.
Psych! Lev is totally one of them.
And he is here on a mission.
In case you forgot, Lev joined the Evil Terrorists way back in Chapter 35. Apparently they've sent him here to do some Evil Terrorist stuff.
Risa is playing with the orchestra while some more kids get marched in to be Unwound. All around her, other players (all male, for some reason) discuss how they plan to escape their fate. Turns out playing for the orchestra only keeps you alive until you're seventeen years old and fifty weeks. Then the Unwind you, since once you turn 18 they have to let you go.
Their plans are sadly ludicrous. This is actually not a bad move on Neal's part. One kid, for instance, says he's "counting on them lowering the legal age of adulthood to seventeen." That's how he's planning to be saved.
Another is going to leap off a roof and smash up his legs. They'll have to heal him before they unwind him, he explains, and he'll reach age 18 while that's happening.
Risa is stunned at the dopiness of their plans. She just keeps playing the piano, though.
Oh, and what is the band playing? "Don't Fear the Reaper." Because no music has been written in this world since 1976.
Only 20% of the book left. Here's my guess for what happens next: Lev blows up some part of the camp, and Risa, Connor, and Roland all escape. Onward to the sequel!
We'll see if I'm right next time.