The Forest
After the accident on the highway, Risa, Connor, and the unconscious Lev escape the hands of an officer with a tranquilizer gun into the forest. Here, Lev, Risa, and Connor officially meet for the first time. After Lev regains consciousness, he finds that he is tied to a tree, because Connor and Risa do not want him to run away. They introduce themselves, and Lev learns that he does not need to be unwound. At first, Lev does not trust Risa and Connor because they are Unwinds. However, he soon gets to know them and befriends them, and the three realize that they must work together in order to escape their fate. Their common goal of staying alive binds them.

The Graveyard
After Lev escapes and sells Risa and Connor out at the school, a kind teacher directs them to an antique shop owned by a woman named Sonia, who helps Risa, Connor, and the baby to survive by hiding them in a basement. After leaving the antique shop, they are taken in an empty ice cream truck to various safe houses before being taken to a warehouse. After being crammed in the warehouse for a few days with hundreds of other Unwinds, all of the Unwinds are put into crates by groups of four. The crates are loaded onto a plane, which takes the Unwinds to the Graveyard, an old airplane hangar run by a man known as "The Admiral." The Admiral is a mysterious, old man who illegally smuggles Unwinds and hides them until their eighteenth birthday. He makes sure everything is running well and organizes everything with the help of the Five Goldens, his "eyes and ears" within the kids. The Unwinds are to work and keep the Graveyard running in exchange for their protection. However, disaster strikes when the Goldens are found, dead, in a crate. Roland, an enemy Connor made back at the antique shop, turns everyone against the Admiral, and chaos ensues.

Happy Jack Harvest Camp
After Roland sells out Risa, Connor, and even himself, the three are taken to Happy Jack Harvest Camp, where they are to be unwound. Happy Jack, "just as the airplane graveyard was Heaven disguised as Hell, harvest camp is Hell masquerading as Heaven" (268). Connor, having the title of "the Akron AWOL," is a celebrity, and Risa, due to her musical inclination, plays piano for the band on top of the Chop Shop, the building in which they are to be unwound. They reside here for the next several days, during which time they realize Lev has arrived at the camp as a tithe.