Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Book One of the Unraveling series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Purchased copy
Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle's mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.
And that was before she died... and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth's destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet.
What I Liked:
I actually read this book back in 2012, after its publication, but it has been so long, and I never wrote a review of the book. In fact, I didn't remember much from my initial read years ago, other than the fact that I really enjoyed the story. I found book one and book two from BookOutlet, at a super cheap price, and so I couldn't not buy them. It was a great decision, because rereading this book was a blast, and I loved book two as well. I'll post a review of book two on another day.
This debut novel is incredibly unique, right from the start. Chapter one features Janelle Tenner getting hit by a truck - yup, you read that correctly. Somehow she survives, with little to no injury, and she remembers waking up looking into the eyes of a boy. That boy is Ben Michaels, a loner student in the same grade at the high school. Janelle never really paid much attention to him, until now, when she's pretty sure he brought her back to life. Her revival isn't the only strange thing going on. The end of the world is coming, and it's more complicated than you'd think.
This book was so dynamite, from the first page to the last. There was so much action, tension, and intrigue throughout the story. I don't remember ever being bored, in my first read years ago, or my recent read. This is a sci-fi thriller novel, and the "thriller" part was really, really good.
The sci-fi part was extremely cool. This story deals with parallel universes, which I'm not always a fan of (in fiction), but I thought the concept was really fascinating in this book. There is a lot of science-y topics and explanations in this book, but you don't have to be a science-y person to understand what's going on. I liked all of the physics that backed up the parallel universes. I liked seeing physical theory behind everything.
Janelle is a warrior woman, to me. She's sixteen and so tough - and she has to be, whether she likes it or not. But she has a natural air of strength, and she is mentally tough too. Janelle is very intelligent and she's good at piecing things together. Heroines like Janelle make me happy! I could relate to her and I really liked her.
This book is written exclusively from Janelle's first-person POV, but that doesn't mean that the secondary characters weren't equally as important. Ben Michaels is a catalyst for so many things; he's a unique individual with a lot of secrets, for a high school loner. He's also the sole love interest, and he's pretty swoony (even if he's a strange loner kid). Other secondary characters include Janelle's best friend Alex, and Ben's best friend Elijah. Best friends are important in this story! I always love seeing positive friendships.
The romance is a cute, slow-burn type. There are a few swoons, not as many as I'd like, but it's a slow-burn romance that takes a lot of time to build, so less swoons made sense. Ben and Janelle have great chemistry and are a great couple. Both of them are very astute and brave, and they become very devoted to each other by the end of the book.
I am not going to give away much in terms of the plot, because things get twisted pretty quickly! As you can imagine, with a novel involving parallel universes. I will say that the ending is a huge cliffhanger, and I don't usually care for cliffhangers, but it helped to have book two right next to me so I could make sure everything was okay. Cliffhangers are the worst! But a great hook into book two.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There was nonstop action, smart teenagers, sweet romance, and an end-of-the-world plot that was surprisingly unique and intriguing. I loved the sci-fi, the thriller, the concept, and I will be moving on to book two very shortly.
What I Did Not Like:
More swoons! Ben and Janelle have such good chemistry. And I already mentioned the cliffhanger.
Would I Recommend It:
If you like thrillers, this is one for you! I know science fiction isn't always for everything, but hey, the science isn't too confusing in this book. I'm saying this as an engineer but six years ago I wasn't an engineer and I thought the science wasn't too in-depth to confuse someone, but "there" enough to be interesting and supportive of the world-building. Anyway, this backlist title is one I'd highly recommend - it hasn't aged at all!
4 stars. I remember loving this way back when, and I'm so glad I still love the book years later. I hadn't read Unbreakable so that will be a first-time read. I'm excited! I'm sure book two will be even more exciting and thrilling, with even high stakes. Bring it on!
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