Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Unraveling - Elizabeth Norris [Review]

This review may contain spoilers. 

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Title: Unraveling
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: Unraveling #1
Release Date: April 24th 2012
Pages: 464
Rating: ★★★1/2


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.


I have mixed feeling about Unraveling. The book had parts I liked and parts I did not like.

I liked the sci-fi part. Ben's abilities and his whole I'm-from-another-planet thing were pretty unpredictable. The writer explained everything well and throughout the book the sci-fi part seemed to grow in size. Problems and new planets piled up, I liked that development. I would have liked it better if the other planets would have been really different, with more technology and stuff, in this book they were just copies of Earth.

I liked the mystery part. From the moment the book starts the reader already has questions. The book had lots of twists and the questions were piling up. How did Ben save Janelle? What is up with the radiation poisonings? etc etc. In the end most mysteries were solved, a lot with very unexpected turn-outs. The book had fast pacing and lots of action, which I like in a mystery book. No dragging out the answers.

I wasn't too fond of the romance. When Janelle became obsessed with Ben after the accident, I understood. She wanted answers. (Although I did have a bit of a Twilight deja-vu here) But then the attraction. I know Ben had a crush on Janelle for ages, but Janelle always found him weird and even had a boyfriend already. So I understood his attraction to Janelle, but Janelle just had some weird inituative feeling she had to know him. Later of course he turned out to be a good guy, but their attraction at first was just a little forced.
I really started disliking the romance when after a few days of their first talk it seemed like the world would collapse if they were apart. It seemed like Janelle would sacrifice anything for him and believe no bad about him, like they were together for ages, when officially they were not even together yet. The end was pretty sad I admit, but I just did not feel anything for their romance. We were told they loved each other, but I just did not feel it. But fortunately the romance did not overshadow the plot, so the book was not ruined because of it.
I thought at first there would be a love triangle between Janelle, Alex and Ben, but fortunately that did not happen. I liked the idea of a guy friend who does not have some underlying crush for a change.

I liked the characters. The protagonist Janelle is strong and caring, even though she had all the reasons not to be. Her dad works all the time and her mom is bipolar, so she has to do the all the householding. And she did not whine about it, that was a lovely change from most YA protagonists! I loved her friendship with Alex, they were both smart, funny and into solving mysteries. I did think they were a bit in over their heads when Janelle stole the FBI files and they tried to solve it. I mean they were smart, but they had no resources. Of course it was handy they came across Ben and his friends, otherwise they would have never have solved it. Their confidence in solving it was just a little unrealistic.
I could not really connect with Ben. He was not really a bad boy, although his first appearances did suggest it. Apart from his awesome abilities and his heritage there was nothing really special about him. He wasn't a particularly bad character, I just found myself detached from him.
I did not know what to think about Janelle's dad. We get information about how he's always gone to work and leaves Janelle to care for her mom and brother, but on the other hand Janelle is thinking about how great he was and their lovely talks about star wars and such. I did not know whether to love or to hate him, but perhaps that was the intention of the writer.

I'm not really anti-cursing in books, but I thought there was just too much cursing for no reason in this book. I know cursing is a part of teenage language and sometimes it can be fitting in a certain situation, but when there is a conversation in a book where there are one of more curse words per sentence I think it's too much. That was exactly the case here. 

I loved the countdown chapters in the book, very original. I did not really understand what they meant at first, but later it became very clear.

I would recommend this book to sci-fi and mystery lovers, because those parts of the book were good. If you want a good romance, skip this book. 

Stars: 3.5 out of 5


  1. I think I liked this one a bit more than you did, Eveline, but I can see where you had some issue with the book. There was definitely a lot of superfluous cursing in the book, so I'll for sure agree with that, as well as the fact that the romance was a bit lacking. I, for one, actually appreciated it for a change though haha ;)

    Great review, doll!

  2. This book surprised me with how much I liked it. I wasn't feeling Ben in the beginning, but he grew on me though :) Great review!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  3. I really likedthis book, but it's been awhile since I read it. Loved the countdown as well, I think it added to the suspense of the book. Are you planning on reading the next one? Great review!

  4. This ones on my To-Read list, I just love the look of it. Thanks for the review. :)

  5. I enjoyed this book. I wasn't too concerned about the romance because I didn't feel like it's a focus of the book and these days, I'm not too interested in romance. I read this a while ago and I can't recall ever feeling too shocked at the cursing... I guess everyone has different comfort/'believability' levels.

    Great review though. Although I didn't have some of the same issues, you explained yourself well.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  6. Wonderful review! Unraveling is a book I just couldn't get into; I gave up after the first few chapters. But maybe I just didn't give it enough of a chance (I like mysteries).

    Erin @ YA Book Crush

  7. Great review! I'm unsure whether I would like this book or not, it's been on my TBR pile for so long.
    -Scott Reads It!

  8. I loved Janelle and her maturity, as well! She's even more kick ass in the sequel, Unbreakable. I was also a big fan of the sci fi and mystery aspect. It's too bad you were let down by this book in a few ways though!


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