Even though I wasn't sure what was happening in the first half of book I couldn't get enough of it. I usually get frustrated whenever I don't get some answers by the first half of the book but I didn't mind the suspense in Unraveling.
Elizabeth Norris knows how to create a captivating world. Her writing is never tiresome. Her heroes are intriguing and likable. I only wished they didn't swear since I'm a little bit uncomfortable with characters in YA novels using that kind of language. I do swear but if I wrote a book for younger audience I wouldn't use cuss words in it.
It's hard to explain what this book is about without spoiling it big time. I didn't read any reviews before I started reading Unraveling for the same exact reason.
Sorry for this short review. I didn't want to discuss the plot because of the spoilers so if there still are people who haven't read Unraveling yet, pick it up! You don't want to miss this exciting roller coaster ride!
Since I was listening to the audio version of this book I would like to give props for the narrator, Katie Schorr for doing such an incredible job.
(Source: Purchased used from Awesomebooks.com)
17-year-old Janelle is just leaving the beach after her shift as a life guard, when a jeep comes barrelling towards her, and she knows she’s dead. Then a miracle happens, she’s brought back to life, and the person who’s currently healing her severed spinal cord? Ben Michaels; a stoner from school.
Janelle is given a clean bill of health at the hospital, but she knows what nobody else will believe – she died, and Ben Michaels brought her back. Now Janelle wants to know why, and how Ben Michaels saved her.
Janelle also has something else to focus on though, her father works for the FBI and is working on a new case that revolves around the fact that people keep turning up dead from excessive radiation, and they’ve also found something that appears to be a bomb with a timer – that they can’t defuse.
Who is Ben Michaels? How did he manage to save Janelle and Why? Why are these people dying from Radiation burns? What is the timer counting down to? And how are Ben Michaels and this case linked?
I’m kind torn over this book, because there were parts that I really liked, and then parts that were just so boring it drove me crazy. Some of the plotlines seemed to have holes in them, the whole countdown thing was a bit bizarre (and it sounded much better in the blurb than in the book), and the pacing was just too slow.
Janelle was an okay character. I appreciated her determination to find the truth, and her dislike of people keeping secrets from her, but at the same time she was a bit too sure of herself, thinking that she could solve a case that the FBI couldn’t!
I liked Ben, and he said some really sweet things. Some of his flirting was just lovely, and I quickly grew to like him.
One of the major flaws of this book for me though was the pacing. The beginning was good, but after the first 200~250 pages I began to wonder what the hell was going on. The entire middle, and even part of the end were so slow they just dragged, and dragged, and dragged some more. This was really disappointing after such a promising start, and I got to the point where I just couldn’t force myself to keep reading, and actually had to put this down and read something else (which I don’t really like doing). I really think that this book would benefit from having some of this dead weight cast off, 445 pages was about 150 pages too long!
The plot – I have to say that when reading this, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between this story and the TV show ‘Roswell’; first Ben saves Janelle from dying – Max saves Liz in Roswell, there are three of these kids who are different – ditto for Roswell, and when Janelle looks in the mirror and finds proof that Ben did something to her, (which Liz also did) I was seriously expecting a silver handprint. That being said, I did love Roswell, but the similarities here were just so loud that when it’s revealed what exactly Ben is at around page 250, and Janelle makes some sort of comment about being shocked, I couldn’t help but wonder whether she had been paying attention to what was going on.
When we eventually get to the real story though, the plot holes are huge, and it took so long for things to be explained that I was getting seriously hacked off. How many pages are we expected to read with no explanations for things, until we just can’t be bothered anymore? Some of these plot points were answered to some extent by the end of the book, but it was just ridiculous that Janelle herself didn’t question some of these things. For a girl who goes around asking difficult questions, and sticking her nose in where it’s not wanted – including impersonating an FBI officer, she didn’t ask what I thought were very obvious questions. It was a bit like ‘We found a purple pig’ – ‘Great – I wonder what colour the bacon will be?’ – aren’t you going to ask where the purple pig came from, or why it’s there?
There were other similar incidents of this during the book too, and it got annoying.
The countdown. So much is made of this on the back cover, every chapter starts with the current time left, and the book is even compared to ‘24’. In the actual story though? It’s almost a side-line! Janelle isn’t even aware of the clock until about 18 days to go, and even then, it’s something her father is working on, not really anything to do with her, and most of the time it’s barely even thought about – other things are happening. Yet another misleading blurb!
The whole thing about ‘Janelle saving the world’ was a bit over-the-top too. In reality saving the world had very little to do with her.
That being said though, I did enjoy the first half of this book, but I just can’t forgive this books problems.
Overall; interesting idea, but too many issues.
6 out of 10.
This book totally deserves a 5 star rating. I am not much into sci-fi and i picked up this book thinking it was a standalone story. I have to say - it totatlly blew me away. After the Pittacus Lore series, I think this is my favourite sci-fi book.
I rarely read the descriptions because it's a spoiler for me. When I checked this out I was expecting something like Shatter Me. I guess it was because of the cover? The cover for Unraveling reminds me of it for some strange reason. I also had high expectations for the book after I read the back:
She didn't see it coming...
A truck that came out of nowhere.
A boy with the power to restore life.
A countdown to the end of the world.
...Until it was too late.
Tell me that doesn't sound interesting. So when I think boy-with-powers I think Superman, I think The Incredibles; I think X-Man... but all I received was an FBI crime investigation.
What... the... heck? I've said in my status updates that I hate reading novels about crime investigation involving the FBI, LAPD, etc. It's just so uninteresting to me. The concept of Unraveling could have been awesome -- Janelle is hit by a truck but is brought back to life by Ben Michaels. She should have been dead instead of the driver who had hit her. She wants to know any information on her John Doe, but the body is unidentified. Her father, an FBI agent, is working on the case to discover who the driver really was.
Janelle sneaks into her father's office to browse through his files for any information; while she looks through them, she finds pictures of dead bodies. Only, it's not like any other corpse she's used to seeing, it's radiation burns. The victims' body have been burned. What's worse, behind these dead bodies are countdowns, but to what? She investigates more and finds out her John Doe was already dead before he'd hit her -- over radiation burns. She talks to Ben about what happened That Night and he tells her what she needs to know and comes to the conclusion that this countdown may be to the end the world, now she has to find a way to stop it....
Yawn. I'm sorry, it's just not my thing. Though I must admit, at some point Unraveling had me on the edge of my seat, but my eagerness was immediately wiped away by the constant swear words (it was just too much and annoying!), random passages, the insta-love, and the ending. I stopped on page 290, I skimmed through the rest and read the last few chapters. Why is there going to be a sequel? This should have been the only book.
But this story had some high points:
Kate and Janelle's friendship How they went from growing up together to drifting apart because the other wanted to fit in with the "cool kids". It's really sad reading about stuff like this. Janelle is left to deal with things on her own (she does have Alex, but we all need that one female contact).
Janelle's mom She's bipolar and Janelle raises her little brother on her own. Her father is always out solving crimes. I loved Janelle and Jared's relationship.
Ben Michaels I'm not only interested in his powers, but him in general. He's that smart kid that doesn't do any work in school. He's the quiet; shy boy while his friends are loud and very vulgar. I liked Ben. The insta-love between him and Janelle was just sad. Janelle notices him after he saves her life; while Ben's been in love with her since he was 10.
I had Unraveling on my TBR list for awhile. When I saw that Pitch Dark Books was doing a reread I thought what better time to read the book. I am so happy that I decided to join in. I loved this book from the very first page. You know you are in for a wild ride when the story starts with the main character getting hit by a truck and dying.
I was a little hesitant about this story and didn't really know what to expect as it is labeled Science Fiction. But really the genre doesn't matter to me as long as there is a little bit of love in there. I was hooked from the start. Janelle is hit by a truck and then wakes up staring into the eyes of a boy she doesn't know and she is unsure about what has happened to her. She can't get this boy out of her head and she needs to know what happened. Ben is a bit of mystery and immediately I knew he was hiding something and that it was probably something big. Their relationship was one that I loved watching grow throughout the story. He might be hiding something but he is just so incredibly amazing.
I really enjoyed Janelle and her best friend Alex's relationship. They have grown up together and Janelle leans on him a lot. Janelle's dad is an FBI agent and works a lot and her mom has some mental troubles and doesn't really have it together enough to take care of her kids. It is up to Janelle to take care of the house and her younger brother Jared. But when a string of deaths take place around town she uses the detective skills she has learned from her dad to try to solve the case. She is very good at detective work. I loved how every time she looked at someone she was instantly aware of where they were carrying their weapons.
This story has a little bit of everything, mystery, murder, romance and suspense. The heroine of this story Janelle is so strong and able to take care of herself. I really enjoyed seeing such a take charge girl as the main character of this story. The end of this book blew me away and left me heartbroken. I really did not see it coming. This book is different from the usual YA books that I read. Which is probably why I liked it so much. It was new, fresh and wonderfully heartbreaking. Get ready to be completely wrapped up in this story and the wonderful world Elizabeth Norris has created.
When the heroine gets killed in the first chapter, you know this is going to be exciting...
(Updated: December 08, 2012)
When the heroine gets hit by a truck and killed in the first chapter, you know this is going to be an exciting book. Don't worry, it's not one of those that tells of the afterlife and how much it sucks and so on. I'll explain....
As I said, 17-year-old Jannelle Tenner gets hit by a truck on the way back from the beach. Here's the thing, though. She definitely knows she was dead, at least for a few seconds. But, she wakes up, pretty much unhurt, staring into the eyes of a boy she barely knows. In the 24 days that follow, Jannelle needs to unearth the plot behind a mysterious countdown, find out what the hell is going on with Ben, and try to stop the end of the world. Yeah, I think that's enough for 24 days.
I really liked Jannelle's character, because it was easy to relate to, and you could really understand why she did stuff. Like, when she was leafing through her father's case files, I could definitely understand why, because I would too, if my father were an FBI agent and if I'd found reports on radiation poisoned, melted humans. Yep, melted. As in, skin melting off melting bones (yeah I know, nasty image. You're welcome :P).
I also loved Jannelle's dad, because his relationship with Jannelle was definitely plausible.
The relationship between Jannelle and Ben was good, as well. At first, I thought it was going to be another one of those "lets-rush-into-it-because-we-are-going-to-be-seperated-anyway" relationships that I don't like, but it wasn't. I gradually warmed to their relationship. I think the first cute moment was when we realised that Ben knew what books Jannelle read and what she ate for lunch. I think that was a definite sign of his affection.
Even the family drama was realistic. Jannelle's father is a workaholic, and her mother is bipolar and unreliable, so Jannelle pretty much has to take care of herself and her younger brother. The family dramas and complications added more tension and interest to the story. It was also great how Jannelle's school life wasn't just skipped.
I think there is a little too much crammed into 450 pages. All the subplots and stuff should have been a bit more compelling, because they didn't really add much to the book.
The secondary characters didn't stand out as much as I would have liked.
It kind of flipped theme in the middle of the book. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but for the first half of the book it was kind of a murder mystery: lots of unidentifiable dead people, a girl and her best friend trying to find the culprit, and all that, but then suddenly in the second half we've got all this stuff about aliens and parallel universes and all that. There should have been more hints that it was going to have aliens, or at least more hints that it was in the future (was it? Everything seemed pretty... normal. But there aren't any aliens right now (or are there?! :D) Did I just miss those hints or were they not there???
Despite all these criticisms, I really enjoyed this book, it was a great blend of sci-fi, mystery, and romance.
I definitely recommend it.
- Realistic main character
- Realistic family dramas
- Good love interest
- Interesting plot
Unraveling was among the books where I at first imagined it would have an overwhelming romance, with only a small touch of sci-fi. Instead, it had a ton of sci-fi, plus an adequate amount of romance within.
The cover, oh the cover. It is cool, absolutely sci-fi, and badass. It completely matched the story mood and plot. If you look carefully at the background of the original cover, you can see little numbers which I suppose signifies the countdown. Even the UK version's awesome. I especially like the little countdown and how the face looks like it's slowly breaking apart.
As the synopsis says, Janelle gets hit by a truck and dies. Dies. Right in the beginning of the story, it smacks you in the face with this HUGE gamechanger. I know some books where the plot doesn't pick up until halfway through the story, and this is definitely not it. Already, you have this amazing initiating event and you're not even ten pages in. The plot got better and better throughout the story, building up to the climax. It wasn't too slow to make me lose my attention, but not so fast that I was tripping over my laces to keep up. In the ending, it had such amazing twists that I couldn't predict and all I could really think was Wow. Elizabeth Norris, you are a genius in plot twists. All of that leads up to a bittersweet, yet awfully right ending.
At the beginning of the book, I already liked Janelle a whole awful lot. Before the truck incident, she has her tires slashed and I just have to pull a few quotes from there.
Kate would know I have a spare in the back of the jeep. She knows my dad wouldn't let me get my license until I'd successfully demonstrated I could change a tire, check my oil, and jump-start the car.
But being a damsel in distress isn't really my thing.
I am not only computer-illiterate, but I don't get machines either. First of all, she drives a jeep. And she knows how to change a tire, check her oil, and jump-start her car. Which is the epitome of awesome to me. And she's not a damsel in distress. Point to Janelle for demonstrating her competency in being strong, cool, and independent. Throughout the story, Janelle faces several different conflicts. Like extra-terrestrial/human beings destroying the earth, however accidentally. And family conflicts that she has to handle on her own. But she has to fight through it all, because she's pretty much the backbone of her family. Her father, someone high up in the FBI, doesn't have much time to spend at home, so she steps in as caretaker to both her mother and little brother, with only the support of Struz, co-worker to her father, and Alex, who deserves the title Best Friend of the Entire Galaxy. Or Universe.
Ben is awfully sweet. He gives Janelle even more so support, which would mean a whole lot considering that she doesn't receive a whole ton of it. He fixes people's class schedules, and although it sounds weird, the way he does it is criminally wrong but with an honour code. His initial meeting with Janelle, although neither knew the other, was awfully cute. He thought the sun at Janelle's back made her look like an angel. Which ten-year-old would think such awfully cute things?
Two more characters I liked a lot was Alex, BFF extraordinaire, and Elijah, juvenile annoyance to everything adult. Alex's relationship with Janelle is something I genuinely like. Typically, when a guy and a girl are friends, you'd think that they'd end up together, but in Unraveling, it their relationship is very clear, even without them saying it out loud. They're purely best friends, and won't be anything more. It's quite simple, and just great in a way I can't describe in words. Elijah, who could sprout a swear word several times in a sentence, insults everyone around him, ended up as someone I actually could believe as real. He's an irritating, can't-get-off-your-back character, and he knows it. He's honest about it, and blatantly shows it off instead of hiding it and pretending he's a gentleman.
Another cool thing I liked was the countdowns in place of chapter titles or numbers. I was constantly imagining, "Oh, she has x amount of time to do this, that, and everything else? How on earth does she manage it when I can't even do my homework properly?"
To sum it all up, Unraveling is a fantastically written debut that I will always keep in a special compartment in my heart. I'd recommend it to not only fantasy/sci-fi lovers, who don't like an overwhelming romance, but to anyone who wants a good read. Right now, I shall not-so-patiently await the release of Unbreakable, which will be out on June 6, 2013.
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I just wanted to sit and devour it all in one sitting, unfortunately work and uni beckoned but rarely did the story leave my mind and I found myself counting down the hours and minutes of each shift/lecture until I could hold Unravelling in my hands once again. Finally, this morning, I woke up early and got through the last fifty pages in a flash and I can honestly say I have rarely been so excited by any book in my life. I just adored it, and now I'm feeling depressed that something so great has come to a close.
When seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a truck, she dies. She knows she is dead. Yet suddenly Ben, one of the stoner guys from her school, is kneeling above her, healing her broken bones and busted organs. Janelle is desperate to know what Ben did and how he did it, but when her dad, an FBI agent, begins working on a case related to her accident and a mysterious device which is counting down the days, Janelle decides to begin her own investigation. She must quickly discover Ben's secrets, or face the end of the world.
The Good - Norris lends an urgency to her writing through brief chapters and short sentences, which keeps the pages turning. I as said, I did not want to put this book down and I found myself telling everyone I knew about 'this amazing book that I'm reading'. The characters were great and there was a clear differentiation between each one (except perhaps Reid and Elijah). Ben was absolutely adorable and I think I might be in love with him! The (UK/Australian) cover is fabulous. I continually closed the book to look at it and touch it, and the length was good, too (I have always been a fan of longer YA books, which will become more obvious as I review). I love that the ending of the book wasn't what I wanted to happen!
The Bad - There is nothing majorly wrong with this book. BUT, when Ben finally tells Janelle the 'real story' I just thought it was...a lot for the reader to believe. Yeah, it is science fiction, but the first half of the book just didn't seem to fit the last. Also, there were two instances when Norris wanted to explain the 'science' behind the circumstances, which were done quite clumsily in a 'so here is how it works' chapter, rather than steadily through dialogue and action. When an author does something like this, some of the authenticity wears off and you become completely aware that you are reading a book. Also, although the characters were distinguishable, there were definitely a lot of stock foundations, but none of this deters the fact that I loved Unravelling, and I am going to do everything possible to get an ARC of the sequel!
I seriously want to hug Elizabeth Norris right now. Really. The huge, bear-hug kind (just ignore how creepy that sounds). Because she is a genius.
There’s something in this book for everything. The sci-fi elements are kick-ass amazing. I think this is one of my favorite books dealing with alternate and parallel universes in the sense that everything seems so carefully laid out and easily explained. I’ve read all these books with intricate back stories and worlds that are then explained in pages upon pages of info-dump-ish paragraphs. But it wasn’t like that in Unraveling – the information is easy to absorb, and it only takes a few sentences. It wasn’t given to us all at once, either. Some of the information you’d piece together yourself in the midst of the action, and some we’d learn along side Janelle, our main character.
There’s also a lot of tension and the feeling that something’s going to happen soon at each turn of the page – and something does. Norris does this amazing job of keeping us all on our toes. Once we think we know something, she’d flip it completely upside down. I also loved the way the chapters were laid out, and how they each started with a countdown.
Norris also balances out the sci-fi and the romance in a way that doesn’t make it seem as if the romance is too overpowering, and yet you can also see how it’s a major – and necessary – part of the story. Everything really fits together here, and nothing happens ‘just because’ or ‘for the characters’ convenience.’ While I kind of really liked Nick (who, by the way, just seemed to disappear – what’s up with that?), Ben and Janelle made an awesome couple. They were strong, and dependent on each other without being too dependent in the sense that, yes, you could take one away from the other without throwing them into depression. And they were both strong individuals, too.
But I think my favorite part of it all was the ending. I mean, there were so many different ways the author could’ve ended it. It could’ve gone with the traditional and common ‘lets all hold hands and skip off into the sunset style,’ but it didn’t. Not everything was perfect. There were losses, there were gains, and the way she ended this story was both a little expected and yet heart-wrenching because you knew it was comming – that it was going to happen -, but you don’t want it to.
Unraveling is a mind-blowing, jaw-dropping book that has a little something for everyone. Grab yourself a copy, and prepare to read it all in one sitting because, chances are, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.