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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: April 24, 2012
Pages: 445
Source: For Review from HarperCollins/Edelweiss (Thank you!)
Rating: 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—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.

In short: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris is an intense mystery thriller with a fascinating sci fi twist and a countdown to the End of the World.
Unraveling took me by surprise. I went into it not really knowing what to expect, maybe just a nice read with a good mystery. But what I got exceeded all my expectations in every single way. Unraveling is a superb and intense mystery thriller with a super cool sci fi twist. I became so involved in the plot and characters while reading that I found it near impossible to put Unraveling down. Despite being relatively lengthy, short chapters and a plot involving a countdown clock to the End of the World ensure a fast paced read.

Unraveling's protagonist, Janelle Tenner, is what really made this book for me. It may partly be a factor of really hating the protagonist in the last book I read and thus in comparison, Janelle seems extra awesome, but I'd like to also think that I loved her for being completely independent, smart and nerdy, and snarky. She never once relied on someone else to get things done - she was a go-getter. When faced with the mystery of how she was brought back to life, why people are turning up dead with their bones liquefied from a nuclear-like blast, and how the End of the World Countdown  can be stopped, she makes it her business to find out. Yikes - if it were me, I'd probably hide in a corner and hope for the best.

I also adored Janelle's love interest, Ben, and all their scenes together. And you know that if I'm mentioning the love and relationship aspect of a book in a review, then I must've really loved it because I am not one to gush over that kind of thing in my reviews. Ben has all of the intrigue and mysteriousness of the "Bad-Boy Type" without any of the dickish-ness, which was awesome. Together, Ben and Janelle make quite the cute couple. There were many a moment - most notably, Janelle's ideal proposal scene - that made me swoon.

My one quibble is one that I have with lots of YA mystery novels - namely, that the characters feel the need to play teen detective and save the world instead of turning to a professional for help. I loved Janelle, really I did, but the girl needs to learn that when the End of the World is looming over your head, it's maybe time to turn to the FBI or a Physicist and not worry about if they'll think you're crazy - ASAP.

Unraveling is author Elizabeth Norris' debut novel and I cannot wait to read more from her in the future. I am especially looking forward to seeing more of Janelle and Ben and maybe a certain other mystery that was mentioned briefly in Unraveling and will hopefully be solved in a sequel! Unraveling will be released April 24, 2012. I highly recommend it.

Other Reviews:
A Blog About Nothing
ComaCalm's Corner
Katie's Book Blog

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31 comments :

  1. I read a pretty scathing review for this but from your perspective it sounds pretty cool! I didn't know much about the story but a countdown to the end of the world, a go getter protagonist and a sweet bad boy make me an interested reader!

    Seems book characters aren't the types to ask for help haha, they always try to do things themselves. There would probably be less danger and excitement if they just ran to an adult :P

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    1. Oh really? I haven't read any scathing reviews for it myself. I would be interested in hearing what they thought was so horrible about it because I know I really enjoyed myself while reading it. I hope you love it as much as I did!

      And yeah, it would probably make things less interesting and exciting if they went to an adult in the first place!

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  2. I just knew this book would be intense. I'm really looking forward to reading this book. Don't all teens think they know it all and need no help lol? I know I did...

    Book Enslaved

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    1. haha, yeah lots of teens do. It was just frustrating that Janelle was so stubborn and refused to go for help.

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  3. GAH. I have yet to hear a bad thing about this book!!! So excited for it! :) I can't wait to read it.

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    1. Good to hear! I hope you love it!

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  4. I really disliked the cover of this book, so I was ready to pass it by. But your review made it sound so interesting. So maybe when it comes out I'll pick it up. Thanks so much for changing my mind.

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    1. Yeah, I'm not huge fan of it either... But I swear the book itself is great! I hope you do find the time to read it and enjoy it.

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one that much Aylee .. I've only read positive reviews on Unraveling so far and your review totally convinced me that I need to buy a copy :) !! Thanks :)

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    1. Good to hear! I'm glad most people have been loving it and I hope you love it too!

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  6. All these reviews for this book are seriously awesome and I can't wait to get it started. It sounds RIGHT up my alley and I know I will love it. Mystery, action and some sci fi!? And the countdown thing totally freaks me out I MUST HAZ!!

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    1. haha, yeah it has so many great things going for it! Still, I wasn't absolutely convinced that I would love it going into it - I'm so glad I was wrong and very happily surprised!

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  7. "Ben has all of the intrigue and mysteriousness of the "Bad-Boy Type" without any of the dickish-ness, which was awesome."

    Hahhaha YES AYLEE! I loved Ben so much, he was the perfect amount of bad-boy without the attitude and the brooding:) I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one as well, I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up and I was really pleasantly surprised:) Can't wait for the next book!

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    1. I love that, when I end up liking a book way more than I had anticipated I would! I had hoped Unraveling would have a great and interesting plot, but the characters really took me by surprise. They were so well developed... at times, I felt like I was reading a contemporary novel as the characters had depth and issues of the type I usually associate with contemporaries.

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  8. "I loved Janelle, really I did, but the girl needs to learn that when the End of the World is looming over your head, it's maybe time to turn to the FBI or a Physicist and not worry about if they'll think you're crazy - ASAP." Lol, but they probably won't believe you and so you'll have to play teen detective :P

    I love the sound of Janelle and Ben individually and as a couple. You already know I'm looking forward to this one - and now I have a better idea of what to expect.

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    1. They were super cute together, I thought. It was sort of insta-love in a way, but it didn't at all bother me, probably because it came across as more real. I hope you love this one too!

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  9. "dickish-ness"

    LMAO! I'll have to remember that one.

    Okay, yes! If you are mentioning the romance then it must have been something worth talking about and that excites me to no end. I was already dying to get my hand on this one and you've only added to that!

    P.S. I'd stake out a corner with you. ;)

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    1. haha, well, just because I am going about talking about the romance aspect in my review, doesn't mean that this particular romance will work for everyone, but I thought it was sweet and worked well, in my opinion. And yay, we can be wusses together!

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  10. Ahhhh, I am so excited for this one! As you probably know, I AM one to gush over romantic storylines so I am looking forward to doing just that with Unraveling. It sounds like Elizabeth Norris did a good job with her leads.

    I am all for End of the World scenarios in fiction so I know I'm eat this one up. I'm glad the release is right around the corner. Thanks for the review, Aylee!

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    1. I hope you feel the same way about the romance as I did because I feel like you probably have a better grasp on these kinds of things than I do. And yeah, there is something about End of the World scenarios that are just inherently intense a make for great reads. Hope you love this one as much as I did, Stephanie!

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  11. You had me at countdown clock to the end of the world. :) Janelle sounds like the kind of character I would love to read about, but yeah - I'd most likely be hiding somewhere in a corner, too.

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    1. haha, I know, that is a big grab, isn't it? I mean, it's terrifying, but it makes for a great read. Especially when you combine it with a character like Janelle.

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  12. I'm so glad you liked it!
    I'm so glad you found a good heroine in the female lead of this book - they seem to be in short supply lately, don't you think?

    The book sounds pretty cool ;)though I'll admit I'm a little over the whole Coming Back to Life thing.

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    1. I don't know, I think they're actually making a comeback in YA it seems. Or maybe I'm just reading way more books that are less "girl in a pretty dress" and more "girl who is kickass/possibly wields a sword". And honestly, I don't think I've read too many Coming Back to Life scenarios in books... not that I recall anyway!

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  13. Man at this point, my expectations for this book is sky-high and I really need to lower them a bit because I don't want to be the odd one out! I've been hearing SO MUCH about the twist and I can't wait to be surprised by it too. I'm glad you love Janelle, it's so much easier to enjoy a book when you like the main character, ha. Ben and Janelle sound absolutely adorable together! What a great review, Aylee!

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    1. Yeah, that's always a good idea to not get your hopes up so high. From what I understand, some people really didn't respond well to it, if that makes you feel better. But I'd just like to reiterate again that I thought the book was super awesome :) And yeah, it's surprising how much my enjoyment of a book depends on how much I like the protag. Thanks for reading!

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  14. I am always drawn to a good mystery. This one sounds like it mixes quite a few different elements: romance, sic-fi and mystery - all which I like to read. I've not really been attracted to this book, mainly because I don't like the cover, but your review has convinced me its worth taking a second look - thanks!

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    1. I didn't like the cover either and I admit that was a large reason why I was anxious going into it, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up loving the story! It had a ton of good elements going for it, like you say.

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  15. I saw this at the bookstore the other day, but hadn't read any reviews of it yet, so I didn't pick it up. But based on your review, I wish I had! Your description of the protagonist makes me think I'd love this book :)

    And I totally get your point about wishing kids would sometimes go to adults for help. It's not always realistic the kinds of things kids handle on their own. It's one thing for a kid to take initiative and solve their own problems, but I think working alongside adults would also show some level of maturity, and give an added note of realism to the plot.

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

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    1. Janelle is awesome! I really appreciated her independence and snarkiness.

      And yeah, you basically said exactly how I feel on the topic, but you said it a lot better than I ever could :)

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  16. I LOVE short chapters and it's good that this one gives it. I'm glad you enjoyed this book, Aylee. I'm very peculiar about sci fi content but yes, this sounds good and I'll get to it sometime. Great review!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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