The Best Neal Shusterman Books Ranked 2024

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White fluffy blanket, with book covers of three Neal Shusterman books to the left. To the right has the text 'The Best Neal Shusterman Books Ranked by you"

I couldn’t tell you the first time I discovered Neal Shusterman, but I know that when I did, I read a whole bunch of his books that year. He’s written a whopping 52 books, so I can safely say that I have not read them all. But we’re going to take a look at the best Neal Shusterman books ranked by you … or rather, the people of Goodreads.

Over on Goodreads, you can see all the books that an author has written, and also sort them by popularity. To create this list, I’ve done just that. It’s good to note that sometimes there might be a more popular book that has been released in recent years but that isn’t on this list or is near the bottom. That’s mostly because it’s had less time on Goodreads* for people to vote for it.

Now, full disclosure: I haven’t read all these books. But they have been on my list of Neal Shusterman’s books to check out. So that counts for something, right?

The 10 Best Neal Shusterman Books Ranked by You!

  1. Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) (2016)
  2. Unwind (Unwind, #1) (2007)
  3. Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) (2018)
  4. The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3) (2019)
  5. UnWholly (Unwind, #2) (2012)
  6. Dry (with Neal Shusterman) (2018)
  7. UnSouled (Unwind #3) (2013)
  8. Everlost (Skinjacker, #1) (2006)
  9. Challenger Deep (2015)
  10. UnDivided (Unwind, #4) (2014)

Let’s take a look at these books and whether or not I think they should be where they are in the list of ranked Neal Shusterman books, or if I’d move them somewhere else.

UnDivided (Unwind, #4) (2014)

Well I have to say this isn’t a great start, as I haven’t read this one. But the Unwind series has four main books in it (with some novellas), and all four of those books are in this top 10 list. So that’s gotta say something, right?

Challenger Deep (2015)

Okay we’re back on track. Caden Bosch has schizophrenia, and Challenge Deep follows Caden as he grapples with this, creating a world in his mind. It’s completely different to what you might expect when you read the blurb of the book, and while it was only a 3-star book for me, you can see the care that Shusterman has gone into writing this book with such a heavy topic. Something he does so well. This is a stand-alone book.

Everlost (Skinjacker, #1) (2006)

And we’re back to ‘Anjali hasn’t read this one’. But it sounds super interesting and it’s on the list. Whether I get to it or not is another matter. But aAfter a car accident, Nick and Allie find themselves in Everlost, a limbo filled with lost children and remnants of the past. As Nick adapts to this new world, Allie learns to haunt people, defying the monstrous McGill to seek a way out of Everlost.

UnSouled (Unwind, #3) (2013)

I promise we’re getting to books I have read soon. But UnSouled is the third in the Unwind series, and I actually have all four of these books on my Kindle, so it’s literally on me for not finishing this series. I’ve read the first two, but for whatever reason didn’t make it to this one. I definitely need to remedy that one, as I really enjoyed the first two. I’m sure if I had read it, it would be here in the top 10.

dry by neal shusterman

Dry (with Jarrod Shusterman) (2018)

I remember I was super pumped when Dry came out. Neal actually co-authored this book with his son, Jarrod. I received this book in exchange for a review from Walker Books Australia, and they sent it across the ditch with a bottle of water, which I thought was BOLD but also hilarious.

When the Tap-Out leaves their town without water, Alyssa and Garrett’s parents head to the coast but don’t return. Joined by their resourceful neighbour Kelton, they search for water and encounter Jacqui, steal a car, and set out on a perilous journey. The story follows their desperate quest, highlighting various perspectives in a gripping portrayal of extreme drought and survival. It was a great tale of what might happen if the world ever ran out of water.

UnWholly (Unwind, #2) (2012)

If you read UnWind in 2007 when it came out, it was a LONG WAIT for UnWholly, the second book in the series. I wonder if Shusterman just thought it was originally going to be a stand-alone.

UnWholly follows the characters in UnWind, and Connor, Lev, and Risa’s revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp forces society to confront the morality of unwinding, despite its convenience for providing transplant tissues. Sounds whacky? Yeah okay, read the description for UnWind and it’ll make sense a little bit more.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3) (2019)

I am pumped that that Arc of a Scythe trilogy makes up 3 spots in the top 4 of the best Neal Shusterman books ranked because I loved this series. There’s actually another book too, Gleanings, which is more of a compilation of stories set in the world. But The Toll, is the final in the main series, and it wraps up what was an incredible series. I definitely think it deserves it’s spot where it is, but I also feel like it wasn’t as good as the first one in the series.

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) (2018)

Thunderhead is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series and was nearly as good as the first one. Thunderhead we learn more about the world and the concept of a Scythe and what means. Because of the things that happen in the first one, there are characters who go a bit off the rails in this one, and start defying the norm, which makes for a great story. Definitely approve it being here near the top of the list.

UnWind (Unwind, #1) (2007)

I have a feeling UnWind was the first Neal Shusterman book I ever read. I belive I read it in 2012, so I was definitely late to the party, but at the same time, it was around this year that I really got into Young Adult dystopian stories, and did a bunch of back-reading. I remember loving UnWind and the whole concept that people could essentially sell their kids to be ‘unwound’ for parts to be fascinating. My main gripe with the story is that it’s written in the third-person present tense, which does my head in.

UnWind follows three teenagers, Connor, Risa, and Lev, who live in a society where teens can be “unwound”—harvested for their body parts—until they turn 18. When their parents decide they are no longer needed, the trio escapes and joins other AWOL Unwinds at a desert camp led by the Admiral. Together, they fight against the system, leading to explosive and unexpected consequences.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) (2016)

And the best Neal Shusterman book ranked by you, the people of Goodreads, is Scythe. And I would 100% agree. When I finished this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Like many (if not all!) of Shusterman’s books, it tackles a huge ‘what if’ question (Dry tackled ‘what if the world dried up of water?’, UnWind looked at ‘what if you could unwind someone for their body parts?’) of ‘what if the world had conquered death?’.

In a world without hunger, disease, war, or misery, humanity has even conquered death. Only scythes can end life to control the population. Citra and Rowan are reluctantly chosen to apprentice a scythe, and they must learn the “art” of taking life, knowing that failure could cost them their own.

Eeep! It’s just so so good, and deserves to be here at spot number one as the best Neatl Shusterman book. In my opinion.

I definitely agree with the top 4 books I think, as I do think that UnWind was better than The Toll. While it was still a good book and a good end of the Scythe series, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others in the series.

Obviously there were some books in this list that I hadn’t read yet, so I might have some more thoughts if I had them. But a few other books by Neal Shusterman that I’ve read and enjoyed are Game Changer and Roxyalthough the latter not as much as the former. He also has a book coming out in July 2024, called Break to You, which sounds excellent. Might be time to dive back into his books!

What do you think of this list of the best Neal Shusterman books ranked by Goodreads?

*I looked at Neal Shusterman’s author page on Goodreads and sorted the books she’d written by popularity to get this list.