Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris ★★★★1/2

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Romance
Series: Unraveling #1
Publication Date: April 24th 2012
ISBN: 9780062103734
Page Count: 445
Excerpt: HERE
Rating: ★★★★1/2
Review Copy: Own Purchase
Reviewed by: Janice
Synopsis: 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.


Superb YA Sci-Fi

Oh, where to begin? There is so much awesomeness in this story, it's hard to know what praises to sing first. Do I talk about the characters? The gripping storyline? The romance or the sci-fi elements? Gahhh, how is a girl supposed to choose?!?!

Let's start with the basics. The blurb tells you everything you need to know, so if you want to know what the book is about, read that. The important stuff to remember is that Janelle dies, is brought back, and there's a countdown that could mean the end of the world as we know it. Figuring out what that countdown is all about, who's behind it, and how to stop it is the driving force of the novel. Elizabeth Norris does an amazing job sustaining both the tension and the action. So well, in fact, that as I was reading, I could easily visualize the events of the book in my head, like they were playing out on the big screen - and for that, I really have to applaud her.

Now let's talk characters.

Janelle Turner is probably one of the best YA heroines I've read. Top 10, for sure. She's an honor student, works hard, loves and takes care of her family, has a strong personality, and is overall a take-charge kinda gal who isn't afraid to throw down and get her hands dirty if it's necessary. Seriously, what is not to love about a character like that? I mean, I suppose I could nitpick and find some type of flaw to criticize, but I don't really see the point of that, do you? The girl seriously rocks. She leaps right off the page and carries the story with so much maturity, spunk, and intelligence, you'll find it hard to believe she's a YA character. I sure did.

Ben Michaels is a foster kid who hangs with the stoner crowd, and though he and Janelle have gone to school together for years, he doesn't really register on her radar...that is, until the day he brings her back to life. Suddenly, he's front and center in Janelle's mind, and she won't rest until she finds out why and how he saved her. She simply has to know, and being Janelle, she won't take no for an answer.

I love Ben. Seriously, completely love him. Bad boys may have all the flash and fire, and they may garner the lion's share of attention from readers, but I have a huge soft spot for the quiet, steady-burning types, and Ben is certainly one of those. There's just something so true about him. Even when he's guarding his secrets and dodging questions he can't comfortably answer (with good reason), he somehow does it honestly. He's a good guy, through and through - a boy who just wants to do the right thing and be with the girl who stole his heart back when they were kids. That girl, of course, being Janelle.

The romance is strictly PG, but don't let that clean rating fool you. Janelle and Ben share a lot of intense, swoon-inducing moments. Hands down, my favorite scene between them was their classroom debate about a Charles Dickens book, and then of course there was that time Ben showed up at Janelle's house, all soaking wet from the rain and.....yeah. Great stuff!

There are a ton of other characters I could mention - Alex, Cecily, Barclay, Eli and Reid, to name a few - and each one of them plays a vital role in the story. When all the crap started hitting the fan and events began to spin out of control, I was on total tenterhooks, afraid not only for Janelle and Ben, but everyone. It's a rare book that gets me equally invested in all the characters, and if I could leaped into the pages and pushed them all out of harm's way, I would have. In a heartbeat.

(A word about the sci-fi stuff...I'll admit, I didn't understand everything the characters were talking about, and there were a few times I struggled to wrap my head around all the science-y stuff, BUT it didn't significantly affect my reading experience. So if you're worried about that aspect of it, don't.)

So would I recommend this book? YES. Absolutely. And when you're done reading it and having your minds blown by all the awesomeness, you can dive right into book 2, Unbreakable, which finishes off Janelle and Ben's incredible story.

4.5 Stars ★★★★1/2


  1. That debate! Seriously, so frickin' awesome. I kinda wanted to be Janelle in that moment. Great review.

  2. OMG I know, right? I have that scene bookmarked AND highlighted, and I am not at all ashamed to admit I've re-read it a few dozen times LOL ;)



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