Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris
Book Two of the Unraveling series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Purchased copy
Summary (from Goodreads):
Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she’ll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths—and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn’t turn himself over within five days.
And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about—someone from her own world—has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they’re lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she’s in way over her head—and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?
What I Liked:
I read Unraveling six years ago, but somehow I never followed up and reading this book. I love that this series is a duology, because there's less waiting and less commitment involved. At this point though, it has been years, but I probably forgot about this book in the year of waiting after Unraveling published. In any case, I'm sorry I waited so long to read this book because I was missing out, after having read Unraveling! Unbreakable was even more thrilling and engaging than Unraveling. I almost wish there was a third book!
Warning: there will be spoilers for Unraveling (but not Unbreakable).
The end of Unraveling was quite shocking, as it was somewhat cliffhanger-y. Unbreakable begins four months later, and in those four months, Janelle hasn't seen Ben. He hasn't returned to her universe. Her universe is in shambles, but the pieces are coming together... until Barclay shows up, and explains why he's back: he needs Janelle to come with him to find Ben. Why? Because Ben is possibly a wanted man, and Janelle is the key to finding him. Ben's brother is kidnapped and imprisoned and if Ben isn't found, his family will be executed. But it's not just Ben's family that has been kidnapped - someone that Janelle knows in her universe has disappeared. Tensions are high and time is running out to save Ben, or let his family die.
I usually don't like it when the sequel involves a long separation between the couple, but it actually seemed to work for me, in this novel. I was pretty sure Ben was not behind the human trafficking operation, but at the same time, what if he was? What if he's a villain and not a hero? The separation was good, because Janelle had to decide just how far she was willing to go for Ben. And we got to see just how far Ben would go for Janelle.
That being said, the romance is present but the two characters don't share a ton of page space, until about three-quarters of the way into the book. Which worked, given the structure of the story. The romance has some longing and pain and sadness, but it becomes stronger as the story progresses. Ben and Janelle needed the distance to clearly see how important the other was to them. There were a few swoons, a few sweet scenes.
Janelle is even more bada** and fierce in this book. She is by no means an invincible, fearless warrior - she gets scared, vulnerable, and insecure - but she is mentally tough and physically tough too. This book presents all kinds of difficult situations for her, but she labors on. She does so much for all the people in her life, and I wanted to see her get a happy ending.
Same with Ben - he was selfless to the very end. The author will make you question his values and his decisions. But Ben is still selfless and brave, no matter what is in his path. He and Janelle are always putting everyone else first, and each other, and I really wanted him to get a happy ending too.
You'll have to read the book to find out about Ben's suspected involvement with the human trafficking between universes, and how all of that went down. It's a complicated web and politics play a role in this book, towards the end especially. It all comes together in the end.
The ending has a lot going on (as does the book in general), and everything happens at a rapid pace, though not to the point where things go confusing. The author had a good balance with the pacing throughout the book, and I actually enjoyed the faster pace at the climax. You really have to digest everything to understand the magnitude of the actions. Norris executed the climax and ending very well!
Yes, there is a HEA. That's all I'm going to say! It's a lovely HEA. You should check out the series!
What I Did Not Like:
I mean of course I wanted more swoons! But I get that the romance was set up with Ben and Janelle being separated for most of the novel. But still. More kisses is always a good thing.
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend the entire series (it's a duology, so the commitment is low). I love sci-fi novels and thrillers, and this sci-fi thriller had me hooked from page one of Unraveling. The first book had a few spots that were slower or had some info-dumping, but once we get past the initial setup of the world-building and the big reveal (Ben is from an parallel universe), the series zips by. I liked the fast pace, and I adored the characters (Ben = swoon! Janelle = bada**!).
4 stars. I would love to read more by this author! This series is perfect as is, but something new by Norris would be awesome. I hope she publishes something soon. This backlist reread/read has been fun and I plan to do it more often with other "older" books on my TBR.
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