Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

by Elizabeth Norris
Release Date: April 24, 2012
2012 Balzer & Bray (Sold by HarperCollins)
Ebook Edition; 464 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062103734
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Urban Fantasy
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed. 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.

My Thoughts
Unraveling is one of those books that was more plot-driven rather than character-driven.  And I can honestly say that this is one those rare moments when reading a novel that character development and character analysis really did not matter one whit to me as I was completely absorbed by the plot, trying to figure it all out.  

I have read a lot of young adult fiction over the years and while I enjoyed Unraveling tremendously, it also had a formulaic and calculated feel to its plot, almost as if it was created solely with the intention of deluging the reader with so many circumstances he/she will overlook some of the character weaknesses that exist.  And it almost worked.  But when you throw too many elements at the reader, it gets overwhelming and exhausting and I did wish at some point that Ms. Norris had kept the plot somewhat simpler.  I felt like the author couldn't decide between writing a young adult novel or a science-fiction novel, and while I realize you can do both, it just felt like there was a wavering between the two throughout the story.  Don't get me wrong though.  I enjoyed many elements in Unraveling and as a HUGE science-fiction fan, those were the elements that drew me in the most.  Like ghosts and witches, end-of-the-world stories can also draw me in like a 'moth to a flame'.  And really enjoyed the ending, hoping that there will be a sequel.  What I did really enjoy was the fact that some of the events caught me off guard and I like a novel that has twists and turns that are fun and surprising.

As anyone who has read my blog will know, I have never been a fan of the insta-love romances and the spark between Janelle and Ben quickly developed into one of those.  Because I was more interested in the plot itself rather than the characters, I could actually overlook it here as it wasn't central to the story.  (Thank goodness!!)  And I really liked the characters, even the so-called antagonists, who actually turned out to be something quite different.  I have to admire Janelle as she was responsible for much in her life; her brother, her mentally ill mom, her workaholic dad, and she even took care of other federal agents who spent time there.  There were times when it grew too much and she reacted as a normal teenager would, but it was refreshing to see that aspect of her personality.  She was headstrong, determined, and definitely did not take anything from anybody.  One of my favourite scenes is when she got mad at something that happened in the past and told off that person at a party, with help from a beer bottle. That seems like a lame comment but I don't want to spoil the scene if you haven't yet read the book.  I don't really feel like I got to know Ben as well as I wanted to, but I am really hoping there is a sequel and that will be remedied in the future.

Unraveling was a fun-filled novel that is full of twists and turns, and while somewhat formulaic and predictable at times, still manages to deliver a punch.  I enjoyed the variety of characters and while I didn't feel like I got to know all of them nor did I feel like there was a lot of character development, they were still fun and intriguing.  Fans who enjoy science-fiction, mystery, suspense, romance, and action will certainly enjoy this novel.  I have to admit the action begins right from the beginning and really does not let up until the final page and regardless of how the pieces fit together and the fact that some events feel thrown in, it is still one heck of a ride.  And PLEASE let there be a sequel!!


  1. Hmm...I'm also an anti-instalove reader. Not once have I read one where I just kind of shook it off and didn't mind it. They drive me nuts! Haha, but since you felt it wasn't too bad or central to the story, maybe I'll feel the same way. Great review! :)

    1. It's not too often I can shake off those intalove romances, but I got caught up in the action and enjoyed that quite a bit so it didn't really matter.

  2. Good review, Stephanie... not quite my genre.