»Events»Broken Bodies, Remade Wholes: Unwind as Frankenstein Retold and Reversed
Broken Bodies, Remade Wholes: Unwind as Frankenstein Retold and Reversed
New technologies create new opportunities for anxiety, and using human body parts to create
life is a special kind of horrifying fictional procedure. At first glance, Unwind by Neal
Shusterman and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein approach this concept in inverted ways. In
Frankenstein, a ‘monster’ is built out of the parts of corpses, and rises against his horrified
creator, while Unwind centres on a society that justifies breaking down its own children for
their organs, and using these parts to sustain itself, until the children rise against it. Unwind is
centred on the precept that that which is broken down still lives, in a divided state, controllable
by the larger body to which it’s donated. The children broken down for parts are perceived and
understood by the authorities of this fictional universe as criminals waiting to happen, excess
bodies and liabilities. Frankenstein’s monster horrified Dr Frankenstein due to his perceived
imperfection and lack of accuracy to his father’s vision of the perfect creation. Unwind is
inspired to take its children apart due to that same disgust. Fear of what one has created and
its difference from oneself pervades the horrors and potential horrors of both works.
In my paper I argue that Unwind mirrors Frankenstein in how it centres on an adult fear of
the children it has created, placed specifically in a time and place where they have the
technology and the lack of empathy to tell themselves that it is better not to ‘waste’ what they
have made. Unwind and Frankenstein both delve into old fears and new technology,
embodying and perpetuating a cycle of technology prompting anxiety prompting technology,
until all fear what they have wrought.
Ally Wolfe is a PhD student in English Literature at ANU. Her work focuses on Young Adult
fiction, dystopia, and technologies.