*I'm back from my vacation!!! I got home late last night, but was so exhausted that I didn't get a post scheduled. Or get Manga Monday up. Trying to get back to normal today. I had a great time on my cruise. I came back from 80+ degree Florida to snow in Montana. Lovely.
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Unraveling is one of those books that is a lot of fun if you don't try to read too much into it. It is full of action and surprising twists and turns. The characters are intriguing and the romance is...well...romantic. Why am I sticking with such generic terms? Mostly because this isn't a book that breaks any new paranormal grounds. There's lots to criticize if you so choose, but you can also chomp it down with a smile like a bag of M&Ms.
Janelle is a hardened character. Because she often plays mom to her younger brother and her mentally ill mother, she is an independent, no-nonsense kind of girl. She's also nosy. Janelle comes back from the dead and simultaneously realizes that her father is working on a freaky FBI case, Janelle breaks into her father's files and tries to get to the bottom of the case herself. This is one of the instances in this book where you just have to shake your head and smile. A big honcho FBI agent has so little security on his files that it's relatively easy for his teenage daughter to get a hold of them? Really?
Now for our leading man, Ben Michaels. He is somewhat of a stereotypical paranormal trope. Loner, handsome, mysterious, is dangerous but is also super nice and in love. There's a reason this character type appears over and over again in YA novels. It works. I liked Ben. Especially as the book went on and we learned more about his background. He and Janelle made a good team.
The side characters were well written in this novel, especially Janelle's best friend Alex. He was a sweet, fun guy and I got a kick out of his crazy, pushy mom. I especially liked Struz, the junior FBI agent who is a cross between an uncle and an older brother. This isn't an adult/teen relationship I see that often in YA novels, where the adult functions as an important role model but also isn't a substitute parent.
Above all else, Unraveling is an action oriented book. So much is crammed into 450 pages. It only took me a day or two to read. Danger is coming at the characters from all sides, from supernatural forces, to natural elements, to bad guys. The paranormal twist took me completely by surprise and is something that I haven't read before. (Other reviews say that the plot is too similar to Roswell, X-Files, or other sci fi shows, but I haven't watched any of them so it was new to me). The book is written in the present tense, which makes the book read much faster and gives the characters' problems an in-your-face urgency.
Unraveling is a good book. I ripped through the pages and at the end, I was eager for more. With a little distance between finishing the book and writing the review, I can objectively see that it is a good but not great book. While I was quite surprised by the plot, many of the elements are similar to every other paranormal book you've read. But that didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book while I was reading it. If you're a sci fi or a paranormal fan, I recommend picking up Unraveling.