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Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Saturday, June 16, 2012
Unraveling (Unraveling #1)
by Elizabeth Norris

Rating: Keeper
Publication: April 24, 2012
Pages: 445
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

I'm ashamed to admit that I was late in reviewing this book not merely because of the many hiatuses I had to take recently but because so many interesting looking books have ended up disappointing me, and I didn't want this to be one of them. Well, if it did disappoint me, it is because I have to wait a freaking year to read the sequel.

Unraveling is the best science-fiction/fantasy novel of 2012. I was drawn to this novel when I saw the words "FBI-agent," "murder," and "countdown clock" in the synopsis. With all the paranormal romances flooding the market, I rarely get the chance to read a good mystery, or see a girl without any paranormal ability save the world. And I loved every moment of it.

Janelle is a strong character, with a wonderful sense of humor. The first couple paragraphs were enough to convince me that I was going to like her. Since a fairly young age, Janelle has been taking care of her younger brother Jared, as their mom is bipolar and their dad is often busy with work. She has since learned to be independent, she has a strong sense of duty, and she loves passionately after overcoming her fears of opening her heart. I can relate to her protectiveness of her brother, being an older sister herself, and wish we saw more of Jared. I have a thing for stories with good big-sister/little-brother relationships. Janelle is an intelligent girl, oftentimes too intelligent for her own good when she becomes mired deeper in the mystery of her father's case. Her character is made all the more complex and endearing with her family's  history and the irrational choices that she makes when matters become personal.

The writing style is descriptive and brings the characters and plot to life without getting bogged down in the details. The way the context is delivered, it doesn't feel as though details are planted for our benefit as readers. Details flow together, immersing the reader into the world, and all the plot threads tie today in the end. In addition, the supporting characters that matter are vibrant and act as foils that make each other and Janelle all the more real and relatable. I adore Janelle's best friend, and half Asian, Alex. Full of fun and always there when Janelle needs him, Alex is the definition of perfect best friend material. Then there are Ben and his friends. Their mysterious conversations are central to the plot in bringing Janelle closer to the truth. And what a truth! I honestly never saw it coming.

Suspense builds in a thrilling, heart-racing chase to find the culprit before the countdown ends. In the midst of all this intrigue, Janelle and Ben find themselves drawn to each other, unable to deny the chemistry between them or their desire to learn more about each other. The ending is slightly anticlimactic, which is only to be expected of a story where all the fun is in the guessing and investigating. I can easily see Unraveling as a standalone novel with a bittersweet ending. However, we don't have to guess at what happens because there is a sequel coming out next year: Unbreakable.


Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
40 comments on "Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris"
  1. I really enjoyed this book! I thought Janelle and the three boys were interesting and complicated characters... The plot was definitely unique too! I don't think I loved it as much as everyone else (I keep hearing "BEST BOOK EVER") but still, it was a very good read :) Great review!

    Lisa | Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me

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    1. Same here. I love complicated characters. They tend to have more depth to them and certainly made the book all the more interesting. Unraveling is one of my favorite 2012 reads for sure, though I have so many favorites I honestly don't know which is my all-time favorite :)

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  2. I so agree with your review. I picked this up thinking it sounded like a mystery. I don't read that many but enjoy them so I was glad to read it. Then the stakes went up and the sci-fi twist came that I had no idea was coming. And I loved Janelle's and Ben's relationship. It was so great. Can't wait for the sequel.

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    1. Same here. I don't read many mysteries either and was excited for this one. I knew the stakes were high, but I didn't realize just how high until the twist came in. I loved Janelle and Ben's relationship too. I'll be there waiting with you for the sequel to come out!

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  3. Fab review! I just recently added The Unraveling to my tbr list because of another raving review I read. Your review makes the wait even more unbearable (in a good way). Ha ha.

    -Lauren @ Slaying Books

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  4. Amazing review! I haven't read this book yet either but it's sitting on my shelf. I'm reallye excited to read it after your review.

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  5. I'm so glad you liked this book so much! I hate when I hear so many good things about a book and then don't like it. It's great that the main character doesn't need any super powers to "save the day". I love little brother/older sister relationships too! Great review, Kris. I can't wait to read this.

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    1. Same. I'm really happy that Unraveling lives up to all the hype. Enjoy this book!

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  6. Wonderful review! I'm glad it didn't disappoint. The reviews for this one have been overwhelmingly positive, and the concept is crazy awesome and very different, so I'm excited to read this one!

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    1. It's as crazy awesome and different as the reviews are making it out to be. Enjoy!

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  7. Wonderfully written review, I can say that now I'm tempted to buy this one. So glad that you enjoyed it Kris! :D

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  8. I'm so glad that you loved this book! I was kind of in the same situation as you… I have had my eye on this book but never bothered buying it because I was afraid it would disappoint me. So it's nice to read a rave review :)

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    1. Glad to hear that. I hope you end up checking Unraveling out. It's worth it! :)

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  9. Rebecca HipworthJuly 19, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    I really can't wait to read this, it sounds like a great mix of genres and I'm sure I will love it. Thanks for the review. :)

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  10. Great review! This sounds like a great book - it's been on my TBR wishlist forever. I didn't know there was going to be a sequel! That's awesome.

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  11. I love (hate?) when a book sits on my shelf because I can't quite seem to pick it up over other books, even though I had to have it right away. But then I pick it up and I wonder why in the world did I wait so long to read this? I love that this book did this for you, and it makes me want to read it even more!

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  12. I've been wanting to read this one for such a long time. My copy got lost in the mail and I haven't been able to replace it yet. But after reading your review, I'll definitely have to do that! So excited that there's a sequel.

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  13. I WANT THIS BOOK! Ever since I saw this book on Goodreads I have been wanting to read it and now that I read your review I want it that much more :)

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  14. I'm really glad you liked this book! I've been dying to read it, so I can't wait to get it! Great review.

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  15. This is one of the books i'm dying to read!!
    Thanks for your review

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  16. I've been pining for this book for so long now and your review just made me want to read it more! I think I'm really going to like Janelle. Great review, Kris! :)

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  17. I never read science-fiction/fantasy before, what i read from your review that this is a book that i have to add to my list, looking forward to read this book then. nice review :)

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  18. Wow that sounds fabulistastic! Lovely review!

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  19. Awesome review! I now have to add yet another book to my TBR pile ;) I mean... FBI agents?! Totally my type!!!!

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  20. Just what I thought! I know I'm going to love this book, thanks for this great review. And don't worry.. I haven't even read it yet! so, I'm even more ashamed!

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  21. Great review! I love this book! You did a terrific job of breaking everything down and explaining why you enjoyed the novel.

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  22. I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading this book. A strong female character with a sense of humour is always a good recipe for a great read! Thanks for your review. :D

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  23. Great review! I've heard so much great things about this book and I really need to read it. I love that it has strong characters and it's different from other books.

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  24. Great review! this book sounds really good :)

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  25. I'm dying to read this book !! Great review by the way =D

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  26. I agree, there are too many paranormal novels and not enough sci-fi YA books.

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  27. I wanted to read this ever since I first read the synopsis and saw that beautiful cover! Your review just made me want to read it sooner! Thanks for a great review :)

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  28. I've read a lot of great critics for this book, I should definitely read the book as soon as possible. Sounds like my kind of book! :)

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  29. Great, great review :) That's what drew me to this book at first, too :) Sci-fi & murder - my type of book ;) I also love descriptive writing style :)

    Thanks for the review, I need to finally get myself a copy of this one :)

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  30. "The writing style is descriptive and brings the characters and plot to life without getting bogged down in the details." Totally agree. I loved all the characters and I'm glad is not a standalone...I can't stand bittersweet endings haha.

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