(Admittedly, the plot/premise of both books is a huge factor in their ability to grab you and forbid you to leave...even if you want to. But I want to look at something else that makes them appealing.)
Point of View / Tense
Unwind, to the best of my memory (and what I can find on Amazon's 'Surprise Me'), is written in third-person, present-tense. A very odd combination and one rarely found in books.
"'There are places you can go,' Ariana tells him, 'and a guy as smart as you has a decent chance of surviving to eighteen.'" (first sentence in Unwind)The rest of the book maintains this form. I'm a huge proponent of present-tense...um...tenses. I think they're what separates The Hunger Games from most other books. (I know they're the reason I "dreamnt" The Hunger Games the night after I devoured it.) Present tense creates the illusion that the reader is the one thinking the thoughts put forward in the book.
In Bruiser, Shusterman uses four different points-of-views...and two different tenses.
First there's Tennyson, protective older brother (and, for all practical purposes, the novel's MC): "If he touches her, I swear I'm going to rip out hsi guts with my bare hands and send them to his next of kin for lunch."
Then there's Bronte, his sister, who begins her narration in present tense, commenting, "My brother's an idiot." But by the end of her first chapter, she's changed to past tense: "I was spectacularly wrong."
Then there's Brewster, who speaks in present tense poetry: "I saw the weak hearts of my classmates shredded by / conformity, bloated and numb, as they iced the / wounds of acceptance in the primordial gym, hoping / to heal themselves into popularity."
And last, but not least, is Brewster's little brother, Cody. "Brewster said I should always be the rag doll, but I never liked that much." Past tense.And by the time the book was over, I believed it was real. I can't give away the twist, but let me say the premise is incredible, impossible, and so believable that it scared me.
Neal Shusterman, master of tenses. Need I say more?
Past or present tense? Who's you're favorite 'master/mistress of tenses'? Why? :)