Author: Neal Shusterman
Michelle Knowlden
Publication Date: July 24, 2012 (e-book)
December 15, 2015 (part of UnBound)
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Publication Order
Preceded by
Unwind /
Followed by
UnWholly /
Unnatural Selection (UnBound)

UnStrung is a science fiction novella by young adult literature authors Neal Shusterman and Michelle Knowlden. It is a companion story to Unwind that was first released as an e-book in 2012 before being published as the fifth story of UnBound in 2015.


How did Lev Calder move from an unwillingly escaped tithe to a clapper?

In this new e-book original short story, author Neal Shusterman opens a window on Lev's adventures between the time he left CyFi and when he showed up at the Graveyard.

Lev's experiences on a Hi-Rez, an extraordinarily wealthy Native American Reservation, introduce him to a teen with remarkable musical talent... and whose gifts are destined to end up in the hands of another. And it is this teen's heart-breaking story that inspired Lev to choose the clapper's path.

Pulling elements from Neal Shusterman's critically acclaimed Unwind and giving hints about what is to come in the long-awaited sequel, UnWholly, this short story is a must for fans of the series.


A short while after leaving Cy-FiLev is still haunted by their time together, finally concluding that he does not want to be unwound. He then climbs up a reservation wall in Colorado and soon awakes inside a Hi-Rez, a rich ChanceFolk (Native American) reservation, that provides sanctuary for AWOL children, as the ChanceFolk tribes never signed the Unwind Accord. There, he is taken in and sponsored by the Tashi'ne family, a very highly regarded family in the reservation.

Lev meets Wil Tashi'ne, a boy who is slightly older than him, who is a brilliant guitar player and is an exceptional music therapist. It is Wil's playing that makes Lev feel like he has finally gotten a home. Even though Wil is so good, Lev isn't allowed to clap for him because Wil isn't allowed to accept applause. Wil shares with him that he secretly dreams of getting applause and being able to accept it wth a clear conscience one day.

Wil refuses to play for his dying grandfather to ease his death, claiming using his gifts in this situation isn't right. But Wil eventually agrees to play for his grandfather when he realizes his grandfather really has no hope left to survive. His grandfather's dying request is that Wil takes Lev on a vision quest, a journey young members of the tribe undergo to find their "spirit animal" or their guide.

On Lev's vision quest, things take a turn for the worse. Their group gets ambushed by parts pirates, who plan to illegally unwind them and sell them for a profit. Wil thinks fast and offers himself up in exchange for everyone else being able to go free. At first, the parts pirates are unsure, so Wil starts playing the guitar, and the parts pirates are impressed. Lev realizes what is going on and realizes this is Wil's last change to recieve applause and claps for him. Soon, others in the group join in. The parts pirates agree to Wil's deal and take him, leaving everyone else alone.

Everyone blames Wil's unwinding on Lev, since he was the outsider, and the Tribal Council forces him to leave the reservation. Even so, Lev has found a new purpose. He realizes the power of applause and decides he wants to use the force of clapping to change the world.



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