Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris – REVIEW

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Release Date: April 24th, 2012
Balzer + Bray, 445 Pages
Sub-genre: Paranormal
Source: Advance Reader Copy
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: Unraveling #1

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.

Talk about a breath of fresh air…well, if you can catch your breath. This book was a fast-paced mash-up of a thriller, sci-fi, romance, apocalyptic, murder mystery. Seriously, I can hardly begin to describe how this book exceeded my expectations. I rarely give books 5 stars anymore because the more I read, the more I compare the books to each other. Basically, 5 stars means that this book had a profound effect on my emotions, won’t be soon forgotten, and gave me a lot to think about/reflect on.

Janelle Tenner is just a teenager. Her mother has a mood disorder, her father is a hard-working (borderline obsessed) FBI agent, and Janelle is the one that takes care of her adorable younger brother, Jared. She even has a popular, hot boyfriend. Everything seems to be somewhat normal for a female high school student, but everything changes when Janelle is rundown by a mysterious truck with an unidentifiable driver.

Now that you have that lovely background image, I’ll stay away from the spoilers and attempt to describe how much I absolutely LOVED this book.

1. This author did her freaking homework…on everything. From what high school is like (AP classes & assignments), to quantum physics, geography, medical examiner reports, spot-on portrayals of mental illness, and even federal agencies.

2. Thankfully there is no insta-love, but it doesn’t take the reader very long to become attached to the characters and their romantic shenanigans.

3. The main character, female protagonist is one strong girl. I really felt for her and the author made her emotions and even physical pain almost tangible.

4. Everything in this book will NOT go how you want or expect it to, but you will be glad that it didn’t. I will admit there is a lot of loss and devastation, but there is so much hope and determination that you can’t help but understand why the author made the choices she did for her characters. I can’t picture it any other way.

5. The way the chapters were split up let you know that the countdown was always a pressing issue even if it wasn’t actively being talked about. The pacing is SO perfectly crafted that you don’t feel rushed, but you feel the pressure and anxiety due to the unstoppable countdown.

6. The MC’s love interest. And what a love interest he IS. Ben Michaels. I’m not even remotely kidding when I say I may abandon every other “team” from every book I have ever read (perhaps with the exception of Dimitri from VA and Patch from Hush, Hush). PERHAPS. Ben isn’t noticeably attractive, he doesn’t flaunt his looks or personality, but when he’s with Janelle, he’s absolutely swoon-worthy. And swoon she does!

7. THE ENDING. Heaven help me, there had better be a second book! At the end I thought my heart was going to burst with feeling ALL of the emotions!!!
I will admit that the language is definitely something that younger teens should be cautioned about, but nothing to really fret over. Frankly, the language did nothing to harm my delicate Southern sensibilities, but that’s just me.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes Fringe, The X-Files, any crime drama, and The Day After Tomorrow…those sorts of shows and movies. I fell in love with this book and I am so excited to see what others think of it as well.

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