Book Review: Unraveling

Unraveling (Unraveling #1)
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: April 2012
Page Count: 445
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

I am not really a science fiction reader, but the Goodreads summary and the cover lured me into giving this novel a try. What I found lurking between these pages was a mixture of sci fi fantasy, crime drama thriller, and intense romance. I expected the novel to be a fun read, but I didn't bargain for falling deeply in love with these characters. I loved every moment spent with Janelle and Ben. I am already counting down the days until the next novel is released in April. I'm also reconsidering that maybe I am a science fiction reader - I just needed the right book to show me that.

I can't go into too many details about the plot because I don't want to spoil anything. This story is INTENSE. There isn't a dull moment. In the opening chapters, Janelle, the main character is hit by a truck and then brought back to life. From that moment on, the plot runs away with your mind and refuses to let go. I kept trying to piece everything together only to have another obstacle thrown in my path. The ending left me breathless. I never saw some of those twists coming. This one ends with an emotional punch to the gut that will leave you reeling.

I also really enjoyed that each chapter begin with a countdown. When the book begins, the reader has no idea what this countdown is leading up to, but you get the sense that it is something ominous. As the story unfolds and more clues appear, you know that if this countdown is not stopped then life as we know it will cease. 

Of course, I wanted Janelle to save the world and she's just the sort of girl who you'd want in that role. She's brave and doesn't take crap from anyone. I also really liked that she's smart. Sure, she allows her emotions to lead her at times, but I think that she is trying to do what she thinks is best. It is also cool to see the teenage girl having all the answers to a major world crisis.

As much as I loved this novel, there was one major element that kept me from being able to give this one a five. I know that in fiction - particularly reads in the science fiction and fantasy genres - one has to suspend some belief. I am fine with doing that if it's integral to the plot and makes sense based on the world the author has created. But I do have a problem when an author expects me to suspend belief for something that would never happen. In Unraveling, Janelle's father is an FBI agent who allows his daughter to see his case files, discusses cases with her from time to time, and has a work issued laptop that his seventeen year old can hack into when she needs some dirt on a case. While I loved Janelle's "Nancy Drew" spirit, I did find it really difficult to believe that an FBI agent would be so careless. I understand those elements were needed to make other things in the story possible, but it just seemed really far fetched to me. I would hope that someone in a position that important would do a better job with keeping materials confidential.

In spite of my minor complaint, I loved this novel. It was the perfect way to lose myself after a stressful day at work. Not only did it provide entertainment, but it also forced me to think. I played detective right along with Janelle. Unraveling will appeal to both male and female writers. I'm impressed with the creativity and writing ability of Elizabeth Norris. She is certainly an author to keep your eye on.

One Last Gripe: I can't gripe because the thing I'm irked about is a major spoiler

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The characters - I loved them and their interactions with one another

First Sentence: I can tell the exact moment Nick steps on the beach.

Favorite Character: It's a tie between Janelle and Ben

Least Favorite Character: Brooke - thank goodness she doesn't pop up more often

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed--as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows--with every fiber of her being--that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something--but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened--the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life--points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets--and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.


  1. I heard both the good and the bad on this one. In all honesty, I love your review. It makes me want to pick it up right now. You can tell you enjoyed it but at the same time it wasn't perfect. I love books like that. Thanks for sharing!

    Diana @The Lovely Getaway

    1. I'm so glad you're thinking of giving Unraveling a chance. It wasn't perfect but it was still a lot of fun. Thanks for your comments!

  2. Well, this definitely looks interesting.
    I love the cover and the premise. By the way, I LOVE science fiction. I don't know why it doesn't have many fans.
    Yeah, the part about the FBI agent, it seems very cliche. But it may add to the story so I wouldn't mind.
    LOVED your review, Andrea. As usual.
    Added it to my TBR.
    Your constant reader,

    1. As always, thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Soma. I'm so glad you find my reviews and suggestions useful. I think you'll really enjoy the Sci Fi elements in this one. I thought they were very intriguing.


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