Okay, I'ma plow through the rest of this book, because jeez.
Connor is in the Unwind dorm and he is sad. He is not a hero, just a regular guy, and he cannot save anyone. Poor Connor.
Roland shows up. They have a big fight. Roland almost kills Connor, and then doesn't. Roland is sad to learn he is not actually a killer. Poor Roland.
Lev is in the Unwind dorm for tithes, which is much nicer than the regular Unwind dorms. They have a pool! They have gourmet food! They get nice clothing and their own move theater.
This makes no sense, of course. Given that no one comes back from these Harvest Camps, why spend money on all this luxury? Why keep any of these kids alive for longer than necessary? Why not just harvest them as they show up? Maybe we have to wait until specific organs are ordered? Like, we need a kidney type O+ here in Amarillo?
But given the huge population in our future world, and given that -- apparently -- people are getting transplants for things like having ears that are too big, wouldn't the requirement for organs and other parts be huge? It's huge now, and we don't use transplants except as a last resort.
Lev is not sad. Lev is angry. All the other tithes are in prayer meetings.
I just want to note again that this 'religion people send one in ten of all their children to be harvested' makes literally no sense. I'm assuming religious people are supposed to be the ones who fought on the pro-life side of teh Great Civil War II. You can't get less pro-life than sending your kids off to be murdered. I mean, I get that 'pro-life' people don't actually care about life. I get that it's actually about controlling the poors and keeping them poor. But it's a huge leap from 'poor people shouldn't be able to control their own bodies' to 'let's murder our own kids.'
Lev is angry because he has lost his faith in God. He prays, but his heart has been hardened.
Lev is exercising, because his medical tests showed his triglycerides are high. He can't be harvested until they're normal, I guess. Jokes on the Harvest Camp, though, bc ACTUALLY Lev has taken some drug that makes it SEEM like his triglycerides are high.
Lev's fellow anarchist terrorist kids are wizard scientists, I guess.
He and Blaine and Mai meet up. They are fellow anarchist terrorists. Mai is worried because Risa saw her. What will Risa think? (Why would Risa just think Mai has been sent here to be Unwound, same as her?) Blaine says not to worry, and that they should do "it" tomorrow. He gives them both detonators.
Lev reflects on what they're about to do. He knows it is wrong, but he doesn't care. Because he is ANGRY, see, and his heart is HARD.
Remember the terrorists we met back in chapter whatever, the chapter about the high school? The terrorists who were called Clappers? This is what Lev and his Fellow Chaotic Evil Anarchist Terrorists plan to do. Apparently you put detonators on your hands, and then you clap, and...something blows up?
I suspect Neal knows as little about ordnance as he does about pro-choice people.
Connor and Risa meet in the girl's bathroom to make out.
I'm serious. That's what happens in this chapter. What the actual hell.
Roland is sent for harvesting. He has a rare blood type, AB-, so his parts are in high demand.
A two paragraph chapter which very solemnly tells us that how Unwinding happens is a Deep Secret. But it takes three hours, and 12 surgeons. Which seems like a lot, but okay.
Roland gets unwound. This is actually an effective chapter, and pretty well written. It's based on a ridiculous premise, though, which is that kids being unwound are kept conscious through the entire procedure.
“This is it, then,” Roland says. “You’re putting me under?”
Although he can’t see her mouth beneath her surgical mask, he can see the smile in her eyes. “Not at all,” she says. “By law, we’re required to keep you conscious through the entire procedure.” The nurse takes his hand. “You have a right to know everything that’s happening to you, every step of the way.”
Although this allows Neal to give us a dramatic narrative of Roland being taken apart while being fully aware of every step, it makes absolutely no sense. Why would the "law" required consciousness in these kids? Why would the surgeons want them to be conscious? It makes no sense. That's not how humans behave.
So -- effective, but silly.
Lev gets ready to be a Chaotic Evil Terrorist.
But first a preacher takes the Tithes to a tree which has been grafted with all sorts of other trees -- one branch is from a peach tree, another from a cherry tree, and so on. It's a metaphor, get it?
Lev quotes Proverbs 11:2, saying being proud at having created such a tree is a big sin. It's a metaphor, get it?
The preacher is humbled by Lev's knowledge of scripture. He takes his flock back to the Tithe area, and on the way Connor confronts Lev -- he doesn't get a chance to say anything, but that's not what this is about. This is about Lev finding out that Connor is going to be unwound -- today!
He finds his fellow Chaotic Evil Terrorists and insists on moving up their terrorist act to today. He gets them to agree, but then ---
THEN the religious counselors bring Lev in for a prayer session. Because he seems so troubled.
OH NO. Will Lev miss the rendezvous for the Chaotic Evil Terrorist Act?
We're in the point of view of a Harvest Camp guard. He is moody and sad because he hates being a guard, but it's the only job he can get, since he's was raised in a State Home, like Risa. Life is so unfair. Poor victim of economic anxiety.
Lev's fellow Chaotic Evil Terrorist show up, pretending they're here to take food up to the band. OH NO. Risa is in the band!
The guards show up to take Connor to be Unwound. One mentions that he has pretty brown eyes, and that a buddy of his is looking for brown eyes, because his girlfriend doesn't like blue eyes.
Connor is appalled and terrified, but he goes with them, determined to walk to the Harvest Shop with dignity.
Neal starts this one with a solemn little homily on how suicide bombers (which is what Clappers are) are deluded. Terrorism is Bad, m'kay?
Then Blaine and Mai explode -- Blaine because he's hit by a guard, and Mai because she detonates herself. They have liquid explosives in their BLOOD, y'all. (Oh my God.)
Before Mai dies, she thinks about how and why she and Blaine killed the Goldens. It's because they were insufficiently respectful when her boyfriend died. So she's angry and her heart is hard.
Lev doesn't clap. He can't bring himself to do it. Because he's Really Good After All.
The building blows up with Connor inside and Risa on the roof. Connor staggers, mangled and bleeding, from the wreckage. Everyone in the camp decides Connor blew up the building -- he's already their hero, because he's the Akron AWOL. Their glee at his Terrorist Act (as they think it is) sparks a rebellion, and all the kids rise up and begin tasing the guards.
Lev takes care of poor mangled Connor.
Connor wakes up in the hospital. Local ER personnel have conspired to pretend he's the guard from the camp, Elvis Robert Mullard, and 19 years old. So he's safe from being unwound. Good news!
But they've given him an eye and an arm from Unwound kids. And the arm...drum-roll...is Roland's arm.
Risa also survived. (I know, it's such a surprise! Also, most of the other kids from the Harvest Camp escaped in the riot and have not yet been recovered.) But she is paralyzed from the waist down. Bad news!
But in Neal's world, although we can Unwind 13 year olds, there's a law against Unwinding the disabled. (What?) So Risa is safe now. Good news!
They offered to transplant an Unwind's spine into her -- then she wouldn't be paralyzed anymore, and then she could be Unwound again. Oddly enough, she refused this deal.
Connor comes to see Risa and tells her about his new identity. They're both going to live and they wuv each other.
Then Risa notices his arm -- and whose arm it is. "I will never touch you with this hand," Connor promises.
But Risa kisses his Evil Hand and puts it to her face. "It's your hand," she says, "Roland would never touch me like this."
Then we get the worst paragraph in the book:
Connor smiles, and Risa takes a moment to look down at the shark on his wrist. It holds no fear for her now, because the shark has been tamed by the soul of a boy. No—the soul of a man.Oh my God.
Lev also survived, and is being held in some sort of Super-Max Federal Medical Center while they de-tox his explosive blood.
Pastor Dan, from way back in like chapter five, comes to visit, and we learn CyFi, our magical negro, is leading a movement to stop Unwinding. CyFi is going to save
Also Lev is famous. His picture is on the cover of all the news magazines, because he's the Clapper who didn't Clap. Also, he rescued three people from the building destroyed by his fellow Chaotic Evil Terrorists.
He's a hero, not a zero!
“I have to believe that things happen for a reason," [Pastor Dan says.] "Your kidnapping, your becoming a clapper, your refusing to clap”—he glances at the magazine cover in his hand—“it’s all led to this. For years, Unwinds were just faceless kids that no one wanted—but now you’ve put a face on unwinding.”Yeah, okay, Pastor Dan.
Again, no. This is not how people work. Everyone in this world must know someone who has been Unwound. Why would they suddenly care just because Lev didn't blow himself up?
Also, good news for Lev -- they don't Unwind Clappers, because "that stuff" never gets entirely out of your system. Good news.
In which case, wouldn't Lev have to stay here in this Super Max Federal Medical Center for the rest of his life? Bad news.
But nah. Pastor Dan says Lev will get a few years in juvey, and a few years of House Arrest, and although his parents don't want him back, his brother Marcus is willing to take him in.
Also Pastor Dan has left that Evil Church, the one that supports Unwinding. Now he's following a "different" God.
Lev's hard heart unhardens. "Do you think maybe I can believe in that God too?" he asks.
Cue heart-warming music.
This book has 69 chapters. Heh. 69. (In other news, I am 12 years old.)
We find out why the Admiral was collecting people with his son's parts. Not so he can put Humphrey back together again!
Naw, he is adopting everyone who has a part of his son. Aw! More heart-warming music.
Also, it's useful that they're all under 18. Why didn't any adults get bits of Humphrey?
Also the Admiral and his new 750 kids are all going to Fight to End Unwinding.
Meanwhile, the Graveyard (now called Purgatory) has a new leader. Guess who!
That's right. Connor is now in charge. (Risa is also here, playing a piano that showed up out of somewhere.)
Connor says this to the new crop of runaway Unwinds that show up:
“I don’t know what happens to our consciousness when we’re unwound,” says Connor. “I don’t even know when that consciousness starts. But I do know this.” He pauses to make sure all of them are listening. “We have a right to our lives!”
The kids go wild.
“We have a right to choose what happens to our bodies!”Huh.
Also, THE END.