Google+ Reading Teen: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris: Book Review

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris: Book Review

by Elizabeth Norris
Series: Book 1
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (April 24, 2012)
Buy the Book:  Amazon
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.
At a Glance:

Unraveling was a surprisingly intense and exciting read.  Though it was not always believable, and was sometimes a little random, it was always entertaining.  I really think fans of sci-fi, dystopia, and post-apocalyptic books will enjoy this as much as I did.

Starts with a BANG!

Unraveling was a pure adrenaline rush from the start.  Janelle is hit by a truck.....and she dies.  Yeah.  Dead.  But somehow she is miraculously brought back to life by Ben Michaels, this mysterious boy who is thought to be nothing but a low-life stoner.   From there, the action only intensifies as Janelle soon learns that there is more to this universe than what she always thought. The world around her is crumbling fast, with earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and whatever other natural disaster you can think of.  It's constant mayhem, and constant excitement for the reader!

Mystery, Suspense, and Who-Done-Its:

One thing that I really loved was that I was suspicious of EVERYONE!  Seriously, at one point or another, I think I questioned just about every character's integrity.  Even the people that I was right about, I was still wrong about, because I had their motives wrong.   I love that!

The Heroine:

Janelle was quite the snark.  She was feisty, and quick-tempered, and had a mouth that needed washed out with soap, but I really liked her.  There were SO MANY horrible things that happened to this poor girl, and she just. Would. Not. Stop!  She was so loving and caring and protective of her brother, and her friends, but at the same time she was real enough to admit that she didn't always want to have to be the one who was the "grown up."  She wasn't perfect, and she knew it, but she tried her hardest to do what she believed was right.

The Romance:

This was definitely one of the most unique romances that I've ever read.  The only way I can think to describe it is blunt.  It took awhile for Janelle and Ben to connect, so it wasn't insta-love, but once they did, they didn't mince words.  I loved them together!  They were sweet, and passionate, and always put the other first.  It was awesome.

But....Sometimes Unbelievable:

I know what you're thinking.  It's Sci-Fi, of course it wasn't believable!  Actually, it wasn't any of the Sci-Fi-ish-ness that I had trouble with.  It was the FBI.  I just had a really hard time believing that a top level, high security, FBI case would be left in someone's home where a teenager could go through it at her leisure.  At least I certainly hope, for all of our sakes, that the FBI isn't that stupid.  I finally just told myself to let it go.  After all, there wouldn't be a story if she didn't have access to those files, and the FBI agents weren't morons, so....

Plots, More Plots & Sub-plots, Oh My!

There was a LOT happening in this book.  That made things exciting, but I did feel, at times, that there was just too much.  There were a lot of things kind of thrown in, but not really explained, or relevant to the story, that I felt would have been better left out.  For instance, there's a mystery revolving around a possible rape of Janelle, which isn't really relevant, and is basically only used to make someone a hero, but it doesn't really seem to impact Janelle, which I felt should have maybe been left out, or made more relevant (I won't go on, but for more on this subject, Veronica Roth wrote a fantastic post here).  There were a couple of other times when I felt like we were going off on a tangent as well, like whenever there was a big catastrophe that happened, there would be an entire chapter (very short) that had a flashback to a memory of whatever person was involved in the catastrophe.  Overall, this didn't bother me too much, but I did find myself beginning to skim these flashback chapters.  PLEASE don't think this was a bigger deal than it was though!!

Everything Else:

I loved how all the characters had such distinct personalities.  There were a LOT of characters, so they could have easily all run together, but I felt like I knew them all.  I loved that not all the "good guys" were nice, and not all the "bad guys" were mean.  I loved the family dynamic between Janelle, her brother, and her dad.  They seemed really real to me.  Janelle's mom being bi-polar seemed like another sub-plot that wasn't relevant or explored, but maybe that will come into play more in future books.  The ending felt a little rushed, especially considering the 400 page build up, and I have to say I was not left feeling satisfied, but again, it is a series, so we are left with a bit of a cliffhanger.  In the end, I was really happy I read this book.  It was exciting and different, with a completely unique writing style.  I can't wait to read more by this author!

Book Doppelgangers:

Tempest by Julie Cross, The Host by Stephenie Meyer (kinda)
Can you think of any others?


  1. The sub-plots that aren't explored annoys me. What's the point of possible pasts and some background if they don't tell us anything about the character?

    This seems like a really odd book.

    1. Yeah, it seems like a lot of that should have been edited out, and the book shortened. Although, I did read an ARC. I guess it's possible it was changed before the final copy. I haven't heard anything about that.

      Are you a sci-fi fan?

    2. Not really. The closest I've come to sci-fi is The Adoration of Jenna Fox (if that counts as sci-fi). I'd rather watch Sci-fi than read it I guess.

    3. If you're not a fan of sci-fi, this one might be a stretch for you. Though if you like a lot of excitement/action/disaster you might be able to get past the sci-fi stuff.

  2. First--I just noticed that "interesting" is misspelled in the heading for the comments here...(Don't you hate when people start off by being nit-picky? Sorry--the editor in me strikes again!)

    Second--I am reading this book now, and even though I'm not very far yet, I can already agree with your review. The voice is strong, the characters interesting, but I'm already tiring of the "tangents" and the fact that this feels like the author is trying to tell multiple stories at once. I am continuing because the back cover promises they tie together, but it still strikes me as if the author had a few different story ideas, and instead of being patient and saving one or two for other books, she just crammed them all into one giant one. Hopefully in the end, the strengths will outweigh the weaknesses for me as they did for you.

    1. Hey Kat! Haha, never feel bad for helping me make this blog look better! Seriously! I actually know it's wrong, but can't figure out for the life of me how to change it. It's annoying, but you're the first to actually point it out, so hopefully no one else has noticed. haha!

      Unfortunately, the tangents tend to continue throughout the book, but I did still enjoy it. Hopefully it will be exciting enough for you to overlook those things in the end! Let me know what you think when you finish!

  3. This book sounds like it's really good. I think that I could get past the small bothersome things. I like books that have a fast pace and this seems like it really does. Thanks for the great review!!

    1. YAY! I'm glad you think it sounds like something you'd like!! I definitely think the good far outweighed the bothersome :D Let me know what you think!

  4. Good point! I noticed the absurdity of Janelle being able to wander in at all times and overhear classified conversations/read classified docs, but I was so swept away I forgot about it/didn't care.

    1. I totally agree. I'd be reading and be like, "WHAAAT?? I don't think so." Then, "Oh well, I don't care, it's still good!" haha


Leave us a comment. Commenting people are our favorites! And we like to give things to favorites :)