Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

*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.

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Release Date:
April 24, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library


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.

Rating: 3.5 / 5


  1. I was debating starting this series. I have this book but I always wait to see how the series unfolds. People seem to be loving the second book though.

    I like how you describe it as the typical paranormal but fun anyway. I think if I go into it with that frame of mind I'll probably enjoy it.

  2. Good review. I've had this one on my tbr pile for sooo long, even read a few chapters and stopped. I like the plot and i really need to take some time to finish it.

  3. I just picked this one up because it's super-cheap as an ebook at the moment and because Danny's been raving about it for ages. I do like a good action-oriented book!

  4. The action sounds great, and glad it sucked you in. I have this one but haven't read it yet.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  5. Oh I'm happy you liked it.. but I REALLY loooooved it :))

    And… welcome back Alison! Missed you, I hope you both had fantastic time:))

  6. Definitely no fun going from warm weather back into this unrelenting cold.

    The novel sounds pretty interesting, thanks for the review. I'll be putting it on my TBR list :)

  7. Hmm I guess this sounds good but it does sounds pretty similar to everything that is already out in the market. I might just skip this one.

    Thanks for the great review!

  8. Welcome back!

    I had a lot of fun reading this book. I think I enjoyed it a lot because I don't have that background in the sci-fi shows-if I had, I bet it would have seemed too familiar.

  9. I am so glad I read your review. I won this book ages ago and I've been hesitant to actually read it. Everyone raves about it, but I get a very "3.5 stars" vibe from it. Your review seems a lot more in line with my expectations and now I feel better about going into it with that mindset. Thanks!

  10. I picked this one up because I saw all the rave reviews, but I really couldn't overlook the nonsensical plot points, especially a FBI agent hiding important documents in his home. Really?? And the whole reason behind Ben was a huge disappointment. I could only muster up 2 stars for it and I don't plan on reading book 2.

  11. I like this one. I think it was way more exciting than the first book being all jumping from universe to universe. Nice review.

  12. I borrowed this one from the library a week or two ago after reading April's (Good Books and Good Wine) review of it. I still haven't read it (I mean, it's sooooo long) but I want to. I loved the first season of Roswell, so I am sooo okay with it being similar to that one. :)

  13. I like the idea of all the action. I have the audio for this and am hoping to get it started soon.

  14. For me I too felt like this didn't surprise in any element of paranormal romance, it didn't really have anything to add. It was enjoyable but I personally felt like I couldn't enjoy it as much because it reminded me too much of Roswell; even though the twist is completely different etc.

    Glad to hear you had fun with this one though!

    Miss J @ Miss Book Reviews

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