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.Review at Imaginary Reads