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