Review: Unraveling

Review: UnravelingUnraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Series: Unraveling #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 24, 2012
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Won

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.

First Sentence: “I can tell the exact moment Nick steps on the beach.”

Unraveling is one of the books I’ve been waiting for, not just because its an Apocalypsie book, but also because it seemed like it would be awesome. However, I also went into the book with a healthy dose of skepticism. I really feared it was going to be a melodramatic, typical YA novel. Why? Because the cover kind of looks like a CW TV show. The first sentence definitely had me worried. Immediately after that, it was pretty apparent that Unraveling is a whole different animal.

Contradicting what I just said, the opening of Unraveling definitely made me think of the television show Roswell, in which Max saves Liz’s life. Later, he’s able to show her his memories of her and she can see how he feels. I imagine that the show must have served at least somewhat as an inspiration, and, if not, Norris should probably go watch it now. Anyway, cheesy at is, I enjoy Roswell, and Unraveling is better and more intense than Roswell.

The countdown opening each chapter is a device that has been used before, and I think Norris uses it quite effectively. There was an immediacy to all of the events in the book.  At pretty much no point in my reading was I bored or not reading as quickly as I could because I needed to know.

I love Janelle from the outset because of her independent mindset and how she doesn’t let the high school drama get the better of her. Plus, she judges her boyfriend for sending a grammatically incorrect text message (grammar is hot!). I would judge her for liking the guy, but she mostly doesn’t; she just wants to have fun, which I can respect so long as she does so responsibly.

YA heroines are known for doing a lot of really annoying stuff. One such thing that particularly aggravates me is just accepting huge news without any curiosity OR being super curious but not asking anything, and generally acting in a stupid banner based on completely absurd guesses. If they do ask and are rebuffed, they usually give up. Janelle, however is totally unlike those heroines. Janelle pesters people for information until she learns what she wants to know; even FBI agents have trouble not spilling the beans to her. Thank goodness for a heroine who’s proactive!

Another thing I really appreciate about Unraveling is in the details. We really get to see Janelle’s life, rather than solely focused on romance or the mystery plot line. I know who does the laundry in what way in her household and mundane facts like that. I also really enjoyed the school scenes, such as one in which the AP English class dissects a scene from a novel. Most books skip over the actual learning part of class, but Norris didn’t, and I loved how much it felt like one of the good discussions from my AP class. Rather than school just being a place for romantic drama to happen, it’s also a place to learn. Props.

With all of the dystopias out there right now, I’m really surprised the publisher or Norris herself didn’t try to make this into one. Certainly, it’s counting down to an apocalypse, but the book definitely comes off more as a science fiction detective story than a dystopia.  Also, the science in this was SO COOL.

Another thing that I loved about Unraveling, because I really seriously don’t have anything not loving to say about this book, is the humor throughout.  Although the book is seriously intense all the way through, like holy-shiz-what-just-happened-oh-snap intense, Norris has woven humor throughout the whole book. Janelle and most of the other teens are snarky wise-cracking sorts who deal with the shit that is GOING DOWN through jokes. Of course, the book might not be as humorous to people who don’t love sarcasm, but I do, and I think everyone should.

I should really wind up this review, because I’ve stayed up til 1 already finishing (because I HAD to) and my alarm’s going to go off at 6:30. So here are the final points:

1) Elizabeth Norris rocks my socks and I will be reading everything she writes subsequently.

2) Unraveling is amazing. You should go buy it/borrow it/cajole someone into buying it for you/find one of the copies that was rock-the-dropped and read it ASAP.

3) Unraveling comes out April 24. You have two weeks to figure out where you can get a copy. The 24th is a good release date for Unraveling, since that’s the number of days Janelle has to save the world. Funny that.

Favorite Quote:

“Life is a fragile thing. Apparently the whole world is fragile too.”

8 responses to “Review: Unraveling”

  1. This sounds amazing! When does the book come out?

  2. I’m glad you liked it! I loved it as well! I was surprised I didn’t find anything to complain about because usually I can, LOL.

    • Christina says:

      Me too! I’m a really picky reader, so that’s always really impressive. The closest thing to a complaint would be that Janelle has a bit of instalove, but even that is well done enough that I can’t complain. Her rational side questions it, which is good enough for me. SML.

  3. Heather says:

    Wow, 5/5? Reading it!

  4. I actually haven’t been too excited for this, but your review makes me want to be excited for it now! 🙂 I will definitely be checking this out.

  5. YESSSSSSSSS! I am so pumped to read this whole entire review because Unraveling is on my TBR and legit good reviews make me super excited.


    Also? I went to school to learn as well, what a shock!

  6. Nori says:

    I really want this one!

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