Author Neal Shusterman Visits Antioch Community High School

Shusterman discussed many of his works, including his most popular novel “Unwind”; several English students have read this novel for summer reading in the past.


Pictured are Shusterman and his assorted works. From left to right, they are: “The Shadow Club”, “Full Tilt”, “Unwind”, “Scythe”, “Thunder Head”, “The Tull”, “Challenger Deep”, “Dry”, “Bruiser”, “Everlost”, “Scorpion Shards” and “Tesla’s Attic”.

Neal Shusterman, an award-winning author and scriptwriter, came to Antioch Community High School to speak with English students from both Antioch and Lakes. Shusterman is well-known for his novel “Unwind,” but he has several other popular works, such as “Scythe,” “Challenger Deep,” “Dry,” “Bruiser” and “Everlost.” 

Throughout the presentation, Shusterman answered many questions regarding his writing method and his inspiration for his various works. 

“I thought he was really good at telling his inspiration for his stories, and I can see why he is such a great author,” sophomore Ashley Lubkeman said. 

Shusterman shared the most about his inspiration for “Unwind”, which is considered to be his most popular and influential work. When asked about how he came up with the concept for “Unwind,” Shusterman said that it was a combination of many things: English articles bashing teenagers, voters in the United States, and the Bible. However, “Unwind” was ultimately about society being unable to rise above arguments, specifically surrounding abortion.

“Through “Unwind,” I tried to convey the message: how do we make the decision of what is right or wrong?” Shusterman said. “People like to think of it being one good decision, and it being black and white, but it is really shades of grey.”

Along with “Unwind”, Shusterman discussed many of his other works. One common theme of all of his novels is that they all shed light on a complex problem that society faces. For example, “Challenger Deep” discusses mental illnesses while “Scythe” offers a different perspective on death. Even though complicated problems are brought up in his work, Shusterman made it very clear that is not trying to solve any of them. 

“Any complicated problem does not have a simple answer. My books don’t answer the problems- that’s up to you,” Shusterman said. “My concepts for my work tend to have an ethical question that I would like to explore and discover through multiple points of view.”

Several of Shusterman’s works are in development to become movies or television shows. According to Shusterman, “Scythe” is in development with Universal, with popular director Steven Spielberg expressing his interest in working on the project. Even though other works of his are in development with assorted companies, “Scythe” is the most likely to be released first. 

Shusterman’s visit to the high school allowed students to learn more about the process of coming up with concepts and writing. His next novel, “Game Changer,” is set to be released in 2020.