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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.

464 pages, Hardcover

First published April 24, 2012

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About the author

Elizabeth Norris

14 books1,202 followers
Elizabeth Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the southern California beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter.

She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together.

Her first novel, UNRAVELING (Balzer+Bray, April 2012), is the story of one girl’s fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,920 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,543 reviews33.9k followers
April 25, 2012
The end of the world is coming! When a book begins with the heroine getting hit by a truck and killed in the first chapter, you know you’re in for a good time. 17-year-old Janelle Tenner somehow wakes up miraculously unhurt, however, and staring into the eyes of a boy she barely knows. In the 24 days that follow, she has to figure out what Ben has to do with her strange revival, as well as how her FBI agent father’s investigation into a series of unidentified burn victims might tie into her own story...and the fate of her entire world.

This sci-fi mystery took me by surprise, in a very good way. While I go into all YA novels with an open mind, particularly when the premise is as intriguing as this one, I admit to a certain degree of ennui after slogging through so many tedious paranormal romances that don’t add very much to the genre. Despite its somewhat ambiguous blurb, it’s nice to find that this is not PNR at all, although I think it will definitely still appeal to fans of that genre. While there discussions of quantum physics, viral engineering, and various other interesting theories, the book is written in a very accessible and entertaining way. The story does take some cues from X-Files, Fringe, Veronica Mars, and a host of other sources, but I don’t think anyone but the most hard-core fans of those shows will nitpick with the influences that are found here.

Things I really enjoyed:

Janelle’s leafing through her father’s case files: I’m the type to do this too, especially if I found reports of severe radiation poisoning that resulted in gelatinous, melty humans. Let me say that again: gelatinous melty humans. :D

Janelle’s dad: We really only get to know him much later in the book, but her relationship with him was plausibly complicated, with the confusing combination of anger and frustration and love and guilt and regret that starts to surface when you're the heroine's age.

A romance that eventually grew on me: I was relatively indifferent to Ben and Janelle as a couple at first, but I gradually warmed up to their relationship. The first cute moment came with grape soda, and then their attraction grew into a keen connection that I became invested in.

Realistic family drama and setting: Janelle’s father is a workaholic and her mother is bipolar and unreliable, so it’s up to her to parent herself and her younger brother. I thought the family dynamic was well done, and it added an interesting complexity and tension to Janelle’s situation. I also liked the way Janelle’s school life was a part of the book, because it’s such a big part of being a teenager and yet often gets ignored in YA.

Things that could have been smoothed out a bit more:

There’s a lot crammed into 450 pages: While I appreciate the fact that this isn’t not a sketchy wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of book, some of the subplots did seem a bit superfluous. If the ex-boyfriend, subplot about rape, etc. were more compelling, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt that way, but as it is, I think the book easily could have rid itself of 100 pages without losing anything vital.

Fairly unremarkable secondary characters: Aside from Janelle and Ben, Janelle’s dad, and her ex-boyfriend Nick, most of the other characters blended together for me.

The structure: the choice to break up the story into segments corresponding with the mysterious countdown is a good one, but I’m not sure it was necessary to have so many short breakdowns, to the point that essentially each change in scene merits its own chapter. Because the story also flits back and forth as it fills us in on backstory, there were occasions when it also disrupted the flow of the story. We’re in the middle of a tense scene at the climax of the book, for example, when we suddenly step out of the action to a flashback of Halloween, which could have easily been included elsewhere.

A couple of overly dramatic gun-brandishing moments, one of which I suppose could be explained away as the character’s extreme agitation after finding out upsetting news, but it’s a little harder to look the other way when it’s being done by an FBI agent.

Writing technique occasionally trumping story: this goes back to the structure thing, although there are other moments when I felt a little jolted out of the engrossing plot because of a line that is included for irony or affect. For example, Ben’s unorthodox way of telling Janelle how he feels about her, “I fucking love you,” is strangely commandeered by someone else during an important scene towards the end of the book. In my opinion, the emotional punch of a poignant moment was interrupted and diminished because of that inclusion.

Despite these criticisms (and my dislike for the Heroes-like tagline), I very much enjoyed this book, which is the first one in a planned series. While I wasn’t really surprised by any of the twists and it wasn’t a story that moved me strongly enough to tears, I did find that the way the author explores the aftermath of grief and separation seemed very true to life, particularly in Janelle’s conflicting feelings and the heavy weight of her responsibilities. That strong opening scene is also bookended with a fantastic ending, one that leaves the door open for the story continue, but also feels emotionally satisfying—even if it is extremely wistful, bittersweet one.

Unraveling is a great blend of science fiction, mystery, and romance with solid writing and a memorable story, and this debut author is definitely one to watch.

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,386 reviews11.8k followers
March 27, 2012
As seen on The Readventurer

2.5 stars

When I look back at Unraveling, the first word that comes to mind is "calculated."

I read a fair number of commercial genre fiction and I am quite used to certain themes, plots and character archetypes being recycled over and over and over and over. It does not bother me, in general. But Unraveling was the first book that made me think, while reading it, that it had been written off of a checklist of what is currently "in" and sells well in YA market. I do not even have energy (nor a desire) to harp on how much of this novel is tediously familiar. Just a few notes:

1. Opening: the hero saves the heroine from dying.
2. Romance: 50% instalove (see #1)/ 50% I-have-loved-you-forever. Escalates to I-can't-live-without-you in a matter of 2-3 weeks.
3. The heroine is "strong" - smart, good student, knows how stand up for herself, family caretaker, family problems, dark traumatic incident in her past of sexual nature.
4. The hero is "good" - sensitive, caring, saves the heroine on multiple occasions, with floppy hair he is constantly running his hands through, crooked smile, with dark secret, fixes motorcycles, hides his smarts under a stoner persona.
5. School: a class that is conveniently designed for the hero and the heroine to banter on a very intimate level, encouraged by the teacher.
6. Other stock characters: stoners, slutty mean girls, stupid jocks, the heroine's best male friend (possibly gay? unclear).
7. Sleeping chastely in the same bed? Yes.

etc., etc,...

Is it really that hard for writers to break away from the same old, same old? Or is this what publishers are consciously and actively seeking out? Something that fits the mold?

There are a few saving graces, however, that barely keep Unraveling from the 1-star abyss, in my case, and, apparently, elevate this book to the level of a favorite, for other readers.

First, it appears the author of the novel went out of her way to make sure to put all positive qualities into her characters and situations. There is no promoting of unhealthy relationships, abusive behavior, doormatedness and so on. The main characters even give small lectures along the way on the matters of dating, dangers of motorcycle riding, drunk driving, honorable way of hacking into the school records, etc.

Second, while I was not at any point enamored with the characters, I still thought the book was a very brisk read. The writing has a sense of urgency to it. The chapters are very short and represent a countdown to a very important, possibly life-threatening event. So you just tear through these pages, like there is no tomorrow.

Third, this novel starts out as a paranormal (after all, the hero magically brings the heroine back from death), but eventually turns into a science fiction story (SF is on the rise, people!, that is why it is in this book, I am betting). Several very positive reviews of Unraveling I have read call this SF bend unique, and readers seem to like it a lot.

But I beg to differ here. Maybe because I do read a lot of SF and I have very recently read another (much better) YA SF with the same ideas , but I cannot seriously call Unraveling a good SF novel. There is hardly any science in Unraveling, the SF "hook" goes generally undeveloped. As for how much science there is actually in this book, I would say close to zero. You can expect nothing more, if the characters in this novel say: "I've spent hours going over it in my head. I was wrong when I told A. no one else knows the science. Both B. and C. know the science..." (identities concealed to avoid spoilers). So that is the extent of scientific knowledge in Unraveling. There are no specifics, just that elusive "science" that characters "know" and "do."

Readers less jaded and less demanding are likely to enjoy Unraveling more. The book's pace is snappy and the story itself packs all the "right" elements. But there is just no originality in it, no life in its characters, no true inspiration behind it. An aggregate of bluntly "popular" pieces carefully put together.
Profile Image for Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker.
596 reviews363 followers
May 13, 2012
My name is Janelle, I'm the star of this book. I'm super smart. I am way above all these social misfits in this book, in fact, they are so beneath me, I just call them "stoners" or whatever else I see fit. My boyfriend Nick is a loser, I'm just with him because I felt sorry for him and when he smiles, he is soooooo devilishly handsome. I'm going to lie to avoid him, and use my friend Alex to come up with excuses to stay away from Nick.

Oh yes, don't forget Alex. He's my super smart best friend who happens to live next door. We are so smart that some gravitational force caused the two super smart (and I mean brilliant) people to end up right next door to each other. It was a brilliant move in terms of storytelling.

Even though I'm super smart, any future bad behavior on my part, we can blame my mom. My mom is bipolar, and she has ups and downs faster than a roller coaster, so if I'm not that stable, we'll blame her, because her bipolar is the perfect textbook bipolar that helps set this story up as well.

Let's not forget about Ben. He's a stoner but he doesn't smell like smoke so I think he's not a real stoner. Because stoners always smell like smoke. Remember, I'm brilliant, and I make brilliant deductions.

But you'll never be as brilliant as me since you stopped reading. Oh well, I'll be super smart, and brilliant without you.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,880 followers
April 17, 2012
Update 04/17/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Elizabeth Norris and enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Unraveling.

I never give five stars easily, but I'd give this book ten if I could.

I always feel this strange sense of accomplishment when I discover a book I can add to my all-time favorites. There aren’t many books that mean so much to me and that I keep going back to over and over again. I take that short list and adding books to it very seriously. Therefore, I needed to give myself some time before reviewing this because I was afraid that my initial reaction was entirely emotional and that my enthusiasm will drop once I calm down. I slept on it, I finished a very different book by one of my favorite authors, but none of that changed how I feel. If anything, I am now convinced more than ever that I found something truly special in Unravelling (that’s two Ls in the UK edition, only one in the US).

Janelle Tanner is living with her parents and her younger brother, working as a lifeguard at the beach and dating a gorgeous and extremely popular high school senior, Nick. Her life looks perfect on the outside, but on the inside, her mother is bipolar and needs to be taken care of, and her father, no matter how wonderful, has a job that’s keeping him away most of the time. He’s the head of counterintelligence in the FBI’s office in San Diego, and he just got a case that’s driving him and the other agents crazy. An explosive device has been discovered and it’s counting down days, but no matter how many experts they bring in, no one has any idea what it is or how to disarm it. As if that’s not enough, unidentifiable bodies, almost completely melted from radiation, are suddenly showing up everywhere. One of these bodies was found in the car that hit Janelle on her way home from work. She seemed more or less fine after the accident, but what no one knows, what no one would ever believe her, is that she died when the car hit her, and a stoner kid from her school, Ben Michaels, brought her back to life and healed her. Who is Ben? Where are all the bodies coming from? What’s going to happen when the countdown finally hits zero? Is it all somehow connected? Janelle and her best friend Alex always enjoyed ‘borrowing’ her father’s case files from his home office and discussing his cases, but this time, they may be in over their heads.

Elizabeth Norris’ writing is flawless. It doesn’t draw attention to itself, but it keeps you engaged and controls your emotions in a way that doesn’t make you feel manipulated. Unravelling is action-packed from start to finish, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks depth. It was truly heartbreaking, and I gave myself a headache from all the crying. If you think this is just another YA novel, think again, because Elizabeth Norris pulled no punches. She kept surprising me on every page, and each time I thought I had it all figured out, she did something entirely unexpected. It was like watching the awesome first season of Fringe all over again, but with a likeable heroine instead of Olivia.

Don’t you just love a girl who doesn’t spend all her time consciously making one mistake after another because she lacks the backbone to do the right thing? That’s our Janelle for you, a girl who knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t hesitate to make it happen. She’d been a victim once and she has no intention of being one ever again, so she thinks hard about every choice she makes and doesn’t allow herself to be influenced by anyone else’s opinion. She’s my new character I want to be best friends with. I always expect YA heroines to disappoint me sooner or later, because they almost always do, but with Janelle, that never happened. I can count on the fingers of one hand the characters that impressed me as much as she did.

(Did you guys notice how I avoided writing about Ben as much as possible? I'm trying to be serious here and I don't think gushing about that boy would help my cause much. But rest assured, he IS perfect.)

I think I’ve made my opinion pretty clear: I cannot recommend this highly enough. I can’t wait to find out how other people will feel about it. Do yourselves a favor and preorder this one, you won’t regret it.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, HarperCollins UK, for review purposes.

Also posted at The Nocturnal Library
August 12, 2018
A lot of fun:
(There’s a rumor I’m the reason Dave Kotlar only has one testicle now, but it’s a total lie. I have no idea what he did to himself, but since he hasn’t made any big attempts to dispel the rumors, it must be way more embarrassing than getting beat up by a girl.) (c)
It’s not that I haven’t accomplished things. It’s not that the people I leave behind won’t remember me. It’s not even that I’m young and there was so much more I wanted to experience—so much more I wanted to do.
It’s the realization that I was practically dead already.
How can I ever dare to meet my own eyes again? I can’t. Not even in dreams. (c)
The shirt is from a concert two summers ago I didn’t even go to, because the book I was reading turned out to be crack. And well, I chose it over the concert, because I’m like that. (c)
And I do the same thing I do any other morning I’m tempted to turn it off and roll over. I think of my mother and the life she’s slept away, and in seconds the alarm is off and I’m out of bed and digging through the pile of clothes on my dresser. (c)
Apparently this month is full of surprises. No one is as dumb as I thought they were. (c)
This man who dedicates his life to the pursuit of truth ... lives in a house where Truth always remains Unsaid. (c)
...anyone who doubts that there’s something wrong with public education in this country just needs to sit in her class for a day to know... (c)

And a whole bunch of dumb stuff, actually(
He might hide behind the dark, brooding stoner thing, but his face is actually just as perfect as Nick’s or Kevin’s. I can’t help wondering if he gets the same kind of play. (c)
His face is almost strangely blank, and it makes him look sad, like he has some kind of tragic secret, and for some ridiculous reason I wonder what it is. (c) Myyyyy, what do we have here, a 'tragic secret' thingy?
I turn to Ben’s profile and open my mouth, but pause as I realize he looks almost classically beautiful from this angle—his profile, the shape of his face—it just seems so perfect, and I’m frozen with surprise that I could see someone on campus for two years and not ever take the time to really notice him. (c) For one thing, this gal must be really easy to surprise. For another, of course his profile is so damn perfect, how else would he have gotten his 'tragic secret'?
I follow my messed-up schedule for the rest of the day, and each class I walk into, the teacher just looks at my name and gives me a sad look of apology. They let me sit in the back of the room and don’t even give me the books. It’s painful that they know I don’t belong in their classes, yet here I am.
The inefficiency makes me want to throw up. (c) Ok, if classes really are organised anywhere this way, I probably should no longer be surprised at people being ignorant.
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews289 followers
December 4, 2013
After enduring several duds on my list, I decided to treat myself to a book I've been dying to read for a while. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I loved this book!

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris is about Janelle, a teenaged girl who seems just like any other ordinary teen, until she dies... and is brought back to life by a boy she's never noticed. She believes she has been given a second chance and is determined to live life to the fullest. But she also has a streak of curiosity and wants to find out Ben's secret in addition to helping her FBI agent dad solve a case about several dead people who have apparently been killed by a healthy dose of radiation. To make matters worse, her father has found a device that is ticking down to a certain doomsday. Will Janelle be able to figure out the answers before the clock reaches zero?

If I could describe this book in a tagline, it would be Veronica Mars meets Fringe. The first 60% of the book, while beautifully written, doesn't have a ton of surprises. Instead, I would say it is almost an homage of all the wonderful books, movies, and shows that have come before it. In addition to the two I mentioned above, there are shout-outs to X-files, Ender's Game, Before I Fall, and some plot twists that are similar to the teen series and show Roswell. The characters are terrific-- Janelle is a wonderful protagonist-- spunky and smart. Her best friend, Alex, may be my favorite character. Ben is a fascinating love interest, and even though when I realize logically that the way he knows Janelle is kind of creepy, Norris masterfully weaves the story to make it seem normal. The pacing of the story is great, and the last 40% of the book approaches unknown territory, which makes it fun to keep guessing.

Overall, a terrific addition to the small but persistent genre of YA science fiction with a great protagonist and plot twists-- I can't wait to pick up the next installment.
Profile Image for Ariana.
936 reviews1,302 followers
December 13, 2014
Elizabeth Norris, I fucking love you!

If I had to describe this book in only one word I would say “incredible”, but if I had more words to play around I would say something along this lines:
“Mind-blowing, heartbreaking with a pinch of humor and an action/suspense overdose... all in the best possible way. Keep both eyes on it when it comes out! And be assured - this is a hell of a great book!“

And if I had even more words to use.. well, you should sit down as I have many things to say about this book.

My Thoughts:
Define love: An intense feeling of deep affection;
Define adoration: A feeling of profound love & admiration;
…Close, but these words are simply not enough.

Unraveling is probably one of the best books in 2012, and yes, I realize it’s only April.
It's funny because I read Elizabeth’s blog and I noticed that her favorite book is "Jellicoe Road", and (…take a guess, you have one chance!) that's mine too. Next to it I put “Graffiti Moon” last year and, in 2012 I’m adding, “Unraveling” to the list as well.

I don't remember the last time I’ve been so lost into a story.
I simply couldn't put it down and I was turning pages like crazy wanting to see what happens next, but in the same time not wanting to reach the ending.

There is this mixture of feelings this book gave me. There were happy moments and really heartbreaking ones, there were moments when my heart was speeding dangerously, and there were moments when I didn’t realize that I was holding my breath until Janelle realized just the same thing:
"I let go of a breath I didn't know I was holding"

This book will probably make you too want to write in italics, bold, caps lock, using way too many exclamation points and filling the review with tons of animated gifs showing your excitement (and I don't even like gifs ). But don't worry, I’ll keep this urge in check for your sake and I’ll let my feeling flow without hurting your eyes.

I'll have to hold back a lot in order not to spoil this story, but at the ending all I could think was how amazing this book really was.

It seemed like the author snooped into my entire ‘favorites’ shelf, took all the best things from the books I loved and put them into this wonderful story. More than that, all the things I don't usually like in YA were transformed in such way that they worked wonders in this book.

What I liked:
The main character

Janelle is independent, sarcastic, confident, she can always rely on her best friend but she can handle it all by her herself too. She is the kind of character you like to read about. Yes, she makes mistakes and her snooping around gets her in trouble more than once, but at the end of the day you will always be proud of her.

The thing is that she knows she died in the car accident and that somehow a boy brought her back to life - she doesn't know why or how, but she will get to the bottom of it, and when that happens maybe she will find out more about her dad's new case that seems somehow related to her death.
She has questions, she doesn’t understand some things, she doesn’t know whom to trust, but she doesn’t give up. The countdown is not stopping, and she has only one chance to find the truth and maybe try to change some things in the way.

The love story

Oh, it is sweet - but it doesn't take over the action. There are more important things that both Janelle and Ben have to do. Still they share some cute moments and I like how their story is portrayed: it happens to know someone for a very long time but not pay attention to that person until one day when you see everything with other eyes. Sometimes you never know when in the world did you fall in love but sometimes you know the exact moment when everything changed, the moment when you two locked eyes and it felt like for the very first time.
"My goal is always going to be to get home." Home. For him, it's a place I don't belong.

The action
All those melting bodies (and I am not saying more about them), and all those turnarounds, all the suspense with the clock dangerously counting down to 0 - all those will make you feel like you are watching a movie unfold in front of your eyes. There are paranormal and science-fiction elements, there is drama, there is a lot of action to keep you more than entertained, there is a cute love story that will trap your heart from the very beginning... Everything fits so perfectly together, every character has a purpose, and you will mourn every single loss until the very last page and long after that.

The Friendship
I liked so much the friendship between Janelle and Alex. And if you are wondering - no, this time there is no love-triangle, there is nothing to make your eyes roll in this department. There is trust, and devotion, and love but in a different way, a non-romantic type. That kind of love that would make you do anything for your friends (you’ll bail them from everything, you will go to the end of the world for them, you will keep their secrets and help them out no matter how mad you are at each other). True friendship, that is.

I could never fit into this review all the things the book is about and I won't even try - but it felt 'real' in a way most books never do. There were family issues, and social issues, there were friendships forming and breaking, there were murder investigations and paranormal activities, but also subjects close to our day-by-day life (as school and grief)... Also there are so many other things I would like to talk about, but I have to hold them back. Maybe after you read this book, we'll talk more about it, maybe then we will share our thoughts about all that happened in this book, all the mysteries, all the turnarounds and how much that ending killed us a bit and made us want to live in a world where the next book is already out.

So what I am saying with all this babbling is that I loved this story, and I think that most of you will do as well. I think that Elizabeth is a great writer, and I am holding my breath for the next book to come out. And I think that I've said enough..too much talking and less reading - not good, not good.

Happy midnight reading!

Book source: Thanks to one of my great book friends for allowing me to read an Advanced Copy

This review can also be found at ReadingAfterMidnight.com


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Re-read in 2013.
I still enjoyed deeply this story - even though now the turnarounds didn't take me by surprise and I didn't feel like holding my breath all the time (because I knew what was coming my way).
I wished for the romance to feel less like rushed, but now that I know Ben better and I remember Janelle seeing herself through his eyes it kind of make sense.
Profile Image for Megs ♥.
160 reviews1,281 followers
April 4, 2012

This book has made a splash amongst YA reviewers lately, so I had to make sure I had this read before its release on the 24th. Also, the synopsis saying "24 meets the X Files" made me very interested.

Janelle is a 17 year old girl who seems to have the perfect life. Nice, fun job as a lifeguard on the beach, super popular hottie boyfriend, cute little brother and more. She also has a dad that works for the FBI. One day when she is going through his files she discovers a file that says something is going to happen in 24 hours. She doesn't know what it will be, but assumes it's the end of the world and she has to stop it. Ben is a boy from her school that saves her life or er...brings her back to life...after she was hit by a truck. Jannelle feels that Ben is somehow related to whatever is going to happen in 24 hours, too.

This is one book where I honestly did not care about the characters at all, and was fully engrossed in the plot. That doesn't often happen to me. I didn't find anything unique about Janelle or any of the other characters, but I did feel Janelle was relatable. She was abused in the past and works hard to make sure no one will ever take advantage of her again.

The countdown created amazing suspense and will make any sci-fi fan happy they picked this book up. The story flowed at a nice, fast pace so it never got boring. The writing style is pretty simple.

The reason I didn't give this book a higher rating is because I feel like it tried to squeeze a bunch of things into a tiny book and I don't feel much of it will be memorable. To me, anyways. It feels like the author couldn't decide if she wanted to write something totally sci-fi, or maybe a high school drama about the abused teen, or a paranormal romance? I don't know it just felt like too much to me. Others may love the fact that it has a bit of everything to offer the reader, though, so don't let that stop you from checking this book out. This really is a good book that was entertaining and interesting. There are a few parts where you might think "have I read this before"?, because it's honestly got some details that have been used over and over again. I feel like the plot was quite fresh, though.

I think the majority of readers who read this book are going to love it! I keep seeing that this book is part of a series, but I haven't found anything on goodreads to confirm that. If it is, though, I will definitely continue reading. This was an excellent debut.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Norris.
Author 14 books1,202 followers
August 27, 2016
So I wrote this, which means I obviously read it (several times). Most of those times I really loved it, except while I was editing (those times my feelings were a little complicated). I'm excited some other people have liked it too. :)
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,948 followers
March 9, 2013
Ten days ago, I should have died. But I didn't. I'm alive. I have so much to live for. And this time I'm going to do it right.

Current Status : Happy Camper

4.5 stars. It's a miracle! This book is sci-fi but it's not dystopia. You could knock me over with a feather right now. Unraveling is not even technically post-apocalyptic. Think more along the lines of pre-apocalyptic. Either way, I'm in shock. Good job with bucking the trend, Ms. Norris.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you the best parts of the book or I'd be giving away a huge reveal. I think it's pretty safe to say that there's more to the story than meets the eye. Every event is triggered by another event. Starting with the very first chapter...

Janelle had a bad day at the beach. Getting hit by a car and being brought back to life by a near stranger was just a small link in a large chain reaction of worse events to come.

Ben was the guy who brought Janelle back. He smells like mint, soap and gasoline (we were told this repeatedly) and has a love of fixing things, especially motorcycles. He sounds normal. Oh, well except for that whole "bringing someone back from the dead" thing.

Naturally, we're only going to get the information about Ben and how he's involved with everything in bits in pieces. I thought the name Unraveling fit not only the theme of the book but the execution of the plot as well. Everything unraveled a little bit at a time until I was left with an ending which had me excited, yet sad... and satisfied, yet unsatisfied. All in all, it was good stuff.

One thing we do find out early on is that Ben and Janelle have a connected past...
He remembers everything about me - details I wouldn't have even remembered about those moments - and the way I looked through his eyes...

Positives :

The characters. I believed in these characters. They felt like real people who were making real decisions.

The suspense. It's always nice to see any love story balanced with some action and mystery. Balance is good.

The ability of a story to make me ignore the unbelievable and just go with it. There were a couple of moments which seemed so far out there, even for sci-fi. But I didn't care. I was having too much fun to care.

Negatives :

As mentioned above, there were a lot of repetitive statements and actions, such as the mention of Ben's familiar smells. I'm now fully aware that this author is a fan of the coffee shop "It's a Grind." I shouldn't have been able to pick up on that. I understand that sometimes a repetitive action is used to distinguish one character's uniqueness but it could have been reigned in just a bit. Three times should be the absolute maximum I need to establish that someone's "tell" is tugging on their hair, for example.

There were also too many pop culture references. This is what dates a book. If you want a book to be timeless, write it so when people read the book 30 years from now, it still feels like they can slip into the story. Although, I have to admit that I laughed at mention of World of Warcraft's frost mages still being gimped because that is so true.

Even so, the positives far outweigh the negatives. This is going on my list of favorite sci-fi fiction for the year.

The end of the world is coming. In 24 days.
Stop the Countdown - Save the world.

*edit to add one last note!* This has to be the best text message ever in a book. Can you see the innuendo?

sry babe get u off tmrw


Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,825 reviews836 followers
December 21, 2013
Unraveling was an action packed story with twists and turns that leave your heart pounding, a swoony and sweet romance, and a smart, likable, resourceful heroine. This fresh and original story was a winning combination for me.

Seventeen year old Janelle’s life has been far from easy. She’s had to grow up quickly with a bipolar mother and a workaholic father. She’s stepped into the role of parent for her brother, Jared and takes care of most of the household chores that a mother would care for, and her father lets her. She even has to parent her mother who is so unstable Janelle must make sure she eats and doesn’t harm herself or anyone else. In spite of that, Janelle loves her dad fiercely and she has a close relationship with him. She’s always interested in the cases her FBI dad is working on.

Everything takes a crazy turn when Janelle is killed in an accident and is brought back to life by a schoolmate, Ben Michaels. Ben has never been on Janelle’s radar when he hangs out with the stoner crowd and she’s an overachieving AP student. But now he has her full attention because she wants to know what happened. As if that wasn’t enough to stick in an “X-File,” the driver and truck that hit Janelle have unexplainable details that seem to fit into a case her father is working on. Then there is the countdown clock listed at the header of every chapter and you have to wonder: what is it counting down to? It gives an urgency to the story as we find out more about it!

Unraveling was a non-stop action packed ride, but it was more than that. It was a story of a broken yet loving family. The characters and problems they faced felt real even set in this fantastical story. It was easy to relate to Janelle and all that she’s going through because of that. You experience the sadness of Janelle and her family dealing with a mentally ill and poorly functioning mother. I don’t know how I would cope. It would be hard not to be resentful but Janelle handles things. I think this why she comes off as a lot older than seventeen, and I loved her no-nonsense approach to life. She tackled things without complaining but instead looked for a solution for whatever was thrown at her.

My heart swelled over Ben! I wondered right along with Janelle how she never noticed him before. When details of the past come to light you’ll love him even more. Janelle can’t stop thinking about him to the point that another boy she’s been casually dating blends into the background:

It’s weird, though. As he talks, I feel off—like I’m spacing out. I can’t help but think of Ben Michaels hovering over me, his hands on my skin, the way he said my name. The unflinching certainty I was dead and now I’m not—and it’s because of Ben.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Ben either!

Ben is all about Janelle too:

“You’re like gravity to Ben—his own personal gravitational force. He revolves around you. It’s been that way since we got here.”

Unfortunately for these two, bigger things are a stake so they can’t just dreamily stare into each other’s eyes and swoon (dang it!).

This didn’t leave off on a cliffhanger, but at the end you are anxious to get to the next book. I’ll be picking that up very soon! I can’t wait to see how this story turns out.

You can find this review and more at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
July 26, 2012
I think I need someone to explain to me just what was so great about this book, because I sure as hell didn't get it. Maybe I'm missing some pages from my copy of Unraveling, but unlike most of the book blogging community, I was not drawn into this seemingly original story. If anything, Unraveling felt as if it was being written from a checklist:
- Female protagonist who is in high school and has the fate of the world on her shoulders? Check!
- Male protagonist who saves the female protagonist from death and makes her fall half in love with him through that action alone? Check!
- Quiet, shy male protagonist who is in love with the female protagonist from afar and hides his intelligence behind a stoner persona? Check!
- Smart, intelligent, popular female protagonist with issues both at home and concerning her past? Check!
Practically every standard element that you can think of in your usual YA flick is in this novel, so why was it so popular? Let's see if I can unravel that mystery in my review...

When a truck hits Janelle on the road, she should be dead. Yet, even while she's taking what she believes are her last breaths of air, she is mysteriously resurrected by Ben, a stoner who she's never spoken to before. Now, Janelle has to know how she's still alive, why she's still alive, and exactly what her father's new FBI case has to do with anything. There's a countdown and time just may be running out...

Janelle, despite having her family issues that I sympathize with, was extremely annoying and her narration completely grated on me. She was constantly whining about her life, taking out her frustration on her younger brother who did nothing, and had an attitude and aura of being better than everyone else around her. If you're thinking she sounds like a bitch you're right! I couldn't stand her and reading her narration took an immense amount of effort. Furthermore, despite supposedly being "smart" and "clever" and "intelligent" she still manages to fall in love with Ben almost instantly. Their love story felt a little too much like Twilight: Edward is mysterious, he saves Bella, Bella tries to find out why, Bella falls in love with him in the process. Now, just substitute Bella and Edward's names with Janelle and Ben and you have the entire romantic story of Unraveling. Unoriginal much?

Enough about the characters, let's talk about the plot. I suppose for a debut author, Unraveling was clever and original. Each chapter was a countdown to a bigger event, the bipolar mother had never been done before, and it had elements of science fiction. However, there was way too much going on in this story. There were various subplots and the book was too long and drawn out to be credited with having a tight plot. In addition, I wish that Janelle's mother's bi-polarness had been treated more realistically. It was one aspect of this story that I was really intrigued by and it fell flat. Furthermore, the sci-fi elements in this story were disappointing. Perhaps I've read and watched too much sci-fi for this to come across as being truly authentic, but I wasn't "wowed" by it in the least.

Overall, Unraveling was an utter disappointment. I had built this book up to be something amazing in my mind because of all the spectacular reviews, but I didn't find myself enjoying it. I can see the allure for other readers, but I'm getting tired of the same old story lines, characters, and ideas. Publishers seem to enjoy a story that can fit the mold of classic YA, but as a reader, I'm yearning for something more unique. I almost wish I could have seen what other readers saw while reading and falling in love with this book, but I guess I'll never know. I won't be reading any more of Elizabeth Norris in the future, no matter how stunning her reviews are.
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews737 followers
May 3, 2012
Unraveling was a book which had been receiving tons of great reviews in the last couple of weeks. Two of my friends Maja and Sam had also rated it 5 stars, so when I got the opportunity to read it, I actually squealed! (This was not at a good moment as I was at a rugby match and my team was at a pivotal moment - taking a penalty, and the squealing did result in me receiving several death glares), but I didn’t care, as soon as I got home I knew that I would be starting it straight away and I couldn’t wait.

Janelle was hit by a truck, it popped up out of nowhere that she didn’t have a chance to move out of the way. As she lay there on the ground and felt her life slipping away from her, she knew she was done for, her family would be left behind broken, who would look after her bipolar mother and her mood changes? Who would look after her little brother Jared when her dad had so much to deal with already being an FBI agent and cooped up in his office all the time? But no sooner than she thought she was leaving this world, she woke up alive with the three school stoners; Ben, Elijah and Reid hovering over her. What just happened? Janelle knew she had died, with the impact of the truck there was no way she could have survived. She had a feeling it had to do something with Ben and his friends, but it was impossible even to fathom the idea that either one of them could have brought her back from the brink of death.

Then strange things start kicking off and she knows her father and his fellow agent Struz are hiding things from her, she’s got a feeling it’s to do with the driver of the truck who hit her. Then there’s this countdown her dads concerned with, why is it so significant? Is it connected to everything weird that’s been going on? And more importantly what is it counting down to?

By the end of this book, I hardly had any nails left from biting them so intensely. There was so much happening in this book all the time to get your head around and I was so caught up in such a whirlwind of emotion. I had a pent up passion to get to the bottom of it all; discover the truth and who was behind it all. But all these mind blowing obstacles kept getting in the way, they left me flabbergasted, shouting in frustration and some were so raw and cut you deep.

The characters were like a bag of pick n’ mix; you never really knew what you would be getting. Janelle was one of the toughest main characters I have come across in a while, she was thrown so much crap her way, nearly dying, having a younger brother dependant on her, running the house as her mother wasn’t in a fit state to do so, finally meeting the person she truly loved; but even that could be ripped away from her so quickly. I truly admire her for the depth and courage she displayed. Ben; I know he had a lot of my friends swooning, and I give him credit he had that aspect about him which could make your heart flutter faster. But I can’t put my finger on it, I actually preferred Alex; Janelle’s best friend more. (may be its because I have a soft spot for people with the name Alex) but I had my doubts about Ben’s character, I didn’t feel that I could trust him straight away, maybe because he came across a little shady and I didn’t really know him as thought I knew Alex? Elijah and Reid you never really knew what you would be getting with these two either, Elijah’s dislike for Janelle was instantly obvious; it was dripping off him with the way he spoke and his attitude towards her when he was around her. Reid was the complete opposite, never hurt a fly and was genuinely concerned with others around him. To say I was surprised with the development of these characters could be the biggest understatement of the year.

Overall Unraveling was an action-packed read, which keeps you utterly captivated. I just wish we didn’t have to wait so long for book two!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for the opportunity to read this book.

Unraveling counts as book 1 off my 100+ I have every intention of reading list (for full list click here ).

This review and more can also be found on my blog: The Readers Den
Profile Image for Kay.
197 reviews362 followers
May 9, 2012
3.5 to 4 stars for the first half, and 2 to 2.5 for the second.

The premise of this book was what grabbed me. It reads like an X-Files episode with a dash of Veronica Mars, and I do like my plucky heroines spiced with some badass in the face of the unknown. You know, more along the lines of

rather than, like,

By the way, meme notwithstanding, Janelle is an excellent cook, on top of her dividing up her time as a high schooler and a pseudo FBI sleuth.

For the most part, the book did not disappoint. The characters were strong, and the plot was intriguing. But I found that the further I got along in the book, the tight knitted plot started to unravel and fray, leaving some loose ends and less than well explained plot devices.

Plot Summary
After getting hit by a truck, Janelle is miraculously brought back to life by a boy with, well, unusual abilities. In trying to find out more about her accident, Janelle sneaks peaks at her FBI father's case files, finding instead a countdown... But a countdown to what? And how is this mysterious boy involved in what seems to be the impending end of the world?

There were definitely many positive aspects about this book. To name just a few:

1. The Pace: As the synopsis suggests, the story is very action and goal driven. The book checks in at around 450 pages, but it felt more like 200.

2. The Protagonists: Bombarded as we are with doormat zeroines and Viagra testosterone hyped bad boys with a little too many shades of grey, I found Janelle and Ben to be genuine and sweet. Janelle is surprisingly mature for her age. Partially, this stems from her living situation. With a mentally unstable parent, she had become the de facto mother of the household. I liked reading about a girl who is grown up enough to get her priorities straight, especially since, ya know, the world is about to end.

3. The Chemistry: Janelle and Ben have chemistry. I did see some instances of Instalove, especially on Janelle's part, but overall, I did enjoy reading about the two well enough. Plus, some dudes could really take a leaf from Ben's book in courting women.

However, once I read past the 50% mark, the story took turns that literally came out of nowhere. And by turns, I mean sharp, stomach-lurching, tire-screeching turns that confuses more than thrills.

Plot-wise, the direction that the story took, especially after what I'd like to call the Big Freaking Revelation really, really forced me to suspend belief. There were a million other ways to resolve the countdown that the book was better equipped to explain. I know fiction is about the impossible, but when the impossible isn't really explained enough, I tend to cry WTF and cock my head suspiciously.

Also, I felt there was way too much going on in this book. It was as if Elizabeth Norris was trying to jam in every single YA trope into a scant 450 pages when the plot was already cruising along at terminal velocity. Also, I didn't feel like I really got to know any of the key characters besides Janelle, and when people started getting hurt, I wasn't sure whether I should feel bad for them or for Janelle, who was affected by the loss.

Overall, 3 to 3.5 stars and recommended. The book started off strong, but gradually lost focus in its character development. I would say my feelings post-read were lukewarm, especially after the end, though more on the warmer side than not. Still, I think this book has enough fun and action that it would appeal to a lot of people, so if you get a chance and enjoy YA, definitely pick this one up!
Profile Image for Sandra .
160 reviews368 followers
Want to read
May 16, 2013

17 year old Janelle Tenner is hit by a truck and killed. But she get's brought back to life by Ben, a guy from her school that she didn't notice until then. Her dad works as an F.B.I. agent, and she snoops around his files searching for clues about her accident.Traitor2

She finds a clock that's ticking down to something, but she doesn't know what it's ticking down to. She realizes that if she's to save the world, she must uncover Ben's secret, and stop from falling for him in the process.

Warning: This review might contain swearing.

I was so excited to read this book! It sounded great and most people loved it. But now, when i look at all the 3-5 star rating, i'm like... jack sparrow zpsf34aad29


What takes me about 3-4 days to read on workdays, took me about a week to get even half way through. Now, don't get me wrong. This book had some kind of potential. The style of writing was really good, even the plot was OK. But the actual book? Not. so. much.

It might have been more enjoyable if i actually gave a crap about the characters and what the heck was happening. But i didn't. Not at all. I was literally like zooming out. Reminds me of when i used to be at school and had my science lessons. *sights*. Yeah, no wonder i failed *shaking head*.

And the main character - Janelle. OH. MY. GOD. She was like a freaking zombie. You know when i mentioned that she got killed by a track (then brought to life)? She might have as well as been dead. She wasn't acting like a living person before the accident, nor after. She was also such a freaking bitch it was unbelievable.
 photo dontscrewwithmeknifeinhand_zpsf9e4e657.gif

Janelle had a boyfriend, called Nick. She wasn't going out with him because she liked him, liked him. She was using him. Some of you might disagree, but that's what i think! Nick was such a good, hot and sweet guy. It was obvious he cared about her. He always tried to do all these little things for her. And what did she give him? Nothing. He would be lucky if he got her majesties 'precious' attention for, like, 10 seconds.

I can't deal with him now.
I don't want to listen to him.
I don't have the time.

Blah. Blah. Blah. Bitch.

The stupid girl stopped leading on the poor guy when she developed a crush on Ben. He was the reason she broke up with Nick.

This was me whilst reading this.
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tumblr m9ego4 Hvc X1r4nwcz zps16d076f4

There was more F.B.I crap than action or romance, or anything else for that matter. I just didn't and don't give a shit. If you're into stuff like that, i think this would be a great book for you.

 photo missny-frustrated_zps15536000.gif
This book was just overall so boring i just can't finish it. It actually gave me a few headaches and made me think "No wonder some people hate reading if they read crap like this".

Profile Image for Maggie.
421 reviews431 followers
April 27, 2012
Some buzzwords that will automatically make me read a book are: Heathers. Veronica Mars. Tim Riggins. Black singlet. You get the picture. Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris had Veronica Mars potential. The main character, Janelle Tenner, is 17 years old, from San Diego, and the daughter of a law enforcement agent (FBI). These are just superficial similarities though. Some other similarities include memories of blacking out at a party and waking up with ripped clothes, a popular and handsome boyfriend who bores her, and her own Wallace Fennel in her best friend, Alex. Janelle, or J or J-baby, is also investigating a mysterious death, except unlike Veronica, the death J is investigating is her own. DUN DUN DUN! Don't worry, that's not a spoiler. J's death, and the handsome stoner who mysteriously brings her back to life, occurs within the first few pages. It's also early on that you realize Unraveling is one part Veronica Mars, more parts everything else you see on TV.

There's a lot to like about J. She's independent, smart, snarky (or at least she tries to be). There's just one little thing -- she annoyed the shit out of me. She says the words that make me roll my eyes harder than anything else:
"But I'm not most girls."
You know who says that? MOST GIRLS. It's one thing to say that when you're dealing with some guy who, while dragging his knuckles on the ground, grunts, "You're not like most girls I know." Then, okay, "I'm not most girls" is a decent answer. A better answer is, "It is dismaying that your expectations are based on the performance of a lesser primate."* The best answer is, of course, "Fuck you!"** J, however, makes her declaration apropos of nothing and revisits this special view of herself throughout the book. Norris even gets the other characters in on it.
"Any girl on this campus would forgive you, but--"
Nick looks away. "But you're not any girl, are you?"
I sigh. "No, I'm not, and I just don't think this is working for me."
Oh. Le sigh of the only girl in the world. J's otherwise likable character was undermined by her constant comparisons to what "most girls" would do, but not her.

So that's J. When you think Veronica Mars, the next thought is Logan Echols, right? WRONG. Mysterious, handsome stoner boy Ben Michaels is more Piz and Duncan than Logan. He's also, and I hate to say this, a bit Edward Cullen. No, no vampires see the light of day and sparkle in this story, but there are a few scenes and lines of dialogue that remind me a bit of Twilight.

Still, despite these usual signs telling me to ABANDON SHIP, the story moved briskly along. Not only is J investigating the mystery of her death, but dead bodies with inexplicable burns are also turning up around the city and a device is found counting down to... something. X-Files is referenced a lot by the characters and the story itself takes a sci-fi turn. I have little to no interest in sci-fi and it usually goes way over my head, but I didn't have any problems understanding these elements of the story. I found myself unexpectedly enjoying that part, like I unexpectedly enjoyed Star Trek (the Chris Pine/Zachary Quinto version).

I felt about Unraveling the way I felt about Divergent -- not particularly original but enjoyable enough.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

* Quote from Party Girl with Parker Posey.
** Also from Party Girl. You should really watch it. Make sure you have a falafel with hot sauce handy.

This review appears on Young Adult Anonymous.
Profile Image for Mimi.
265 reviews359 followers
September 24, 2013
Mind-blowing, gut-wrenching, original, exceptional... It's been over a week since I finished this book and I still can't stop thinking about it or find the words to describe it!

Unraveling kicks off with a running start when Janelle dies — hit and killed by a speeding pickup truck — and is brought back to life by the most unlikely boy possible: Ben Michaels. As the smart, strong, and kick-ass daughter of an FBI agent, Janelle begins to unravel the strands of his secret all the while figuring out that there's something bigger happening, something exponentially more dangerous, and she has to find out what before it's too late.

With shorter chapters that always start with an ominous countdown, saying this book is intense doesn't even begin to describe it! The concept is literally out of this world. There's not much I can say without being spoilery, but the sci-fi elements are so DIFFERENT from what you'd expect that I can't even put a single label on it. Except maybe amazing. And epic.

Other than loving Janelle completely, I think that Elizabeth Norris created the perfect cast! They're real and anything but typical. And they swear — a lot, which I totally loved. Ben is 100% swoon-worthy while being so different from regular book boys; her best friend Alex isn't a love interest (there's actually no love triangle at all ♥) but I promise he'll steal your heart anyways; Elijah and Taylor Barclay make for unexpected awesome; and Janelle's FBI father and friends are complex as well.

Unraveling isn't a fairytale. Like nothing I've ever read before, it's hardcore and intense and gripping and unique. It's also one of those rare gems that remind us how real life doesn't always close with a happy ending — the huge twist at the end knocked me off my feet! I wanted to cry and beg for a sequel at the exact same time.

In short, Unraveling is one of the most brilliant and gut-wrenching debuts I've ever read! You have to read it — it will blow your mind away! :)

BUY or BORROW?: For books like this one, this is such a pointless question! Buy it and love it, then please come tell me what you think after so we can cry together! :')

(Original review at Mimi Valentine's YA Review Blog)
Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,345 reviews811 followers
April 29, 2021
Janelle Tenner has your typical teenaged life: FBI father who overworks, alcoholic, manic depressed mother, little brother (a mere 13) that Janelle has to take care of, a nerdy best friend, an evil former friend (of course female) that may or may not have helped get Janelle sexually assaulted. But being hit by a truck, dying, and being revived by stoner, Ben Michaels, changes that. What happened to her? And does it have anything to do with this countdown timer her father discovered?

NOTE: I received this through the Amazon Vine program.

I love to read. I've been reading pretty steadily since I was in second grade, with a brief time where I didn't (that conveniently corresponded to those good 'ol college days). There is nothing quite as wonderful as getting carried away in a new world, populated with vivid characters, being whisked into a new adventure. Were it not for my love of reading, I would never have gotten addicted to my second love: reviewing.

I try to go into the books I read with a positive attitude. That I am going to learn something new, go on a new adventure, meet new best friends. I try to keep my expectations manageable--not too high, but not too low either.

But every so often I meet up with a book that isn't going to be my friend. As I continue to read, I realize we don't have a lot in common. The characters pretend to be book nerdy, but they are hardly shown reading. Characters act in ways that I cannot relate to or act WAY more stupidly than I think they would given their privileged occupation. The plot disappears as the Love Interest ducks his hand under the Main Character's vintage t-shirt. And basic science principles, that could be researched on Google in two seconds, aren't even acknowledged.

Unfortunately, "Unraveling" and I aren't going to be best of friends. We just don't have enough in common.

You see, I can take a main character I don't like. Scarlett O'Hara, from Gone with the Wind, is a woman I would have liked to slap on several occasions; but never once was I not completely and wholeheartedly involved in her story. Janelle Tenner is not Scarlett O'Hara. I wouldn't be surprised if Janelle didn't even know who Scarlett O'Hara was or if she did know, she didn't like the movie.

Janelle and I weren't that way in the beginning of our relationship. In the beginning, I admired her strength and appreciated her responsibility to her family. But as the book progressed, I began to see that maybe I had read Janelle wrong. Maybe she wasn't a strong independent woman, but a self-pitying martyr. Maybe she wasn't a bookworm, but someone that likes to name drop big books ("Ender's Game", "The Great Gatsby") because, hey, why not? Maybe she wasn't smart and nerdy, but a poser--someone who repetitively gloats about how smart they are, but when it comes to showing it, they end up saying things like "The Earth is flat" or "2+2=5". (Or they say things like "Travel through wormholes is impossible-it violates every natural law of physics." No, sweetheart, it doesn't.) Maybe she isn't really a brainiac, but someone that takes advanced classes they apparently don't like (Physics) to show off.

I didn't care for all the trauma in Janelle's life. The absentee father. The alcoholic mother. No grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins to help her out. The senseless sexual assault scene that does nothing but pad out the novel (it's VERY insulting how Janelle has coped with her sexual assault). Isn't this novel supposed to be about the mysterious Love Interest, Ben Michaels, and the creepy countdown clock? What about her near-death? Isn't that enough trauma for the poor girl? Do we have to touch on every other problem that a teenaged girl might have? Let's give Janelle an eating disorder and shoplifting problem as well!!

I appreciated Janelle's curiosity--but she breaks the laws. Several times. Snooping through her Dad's FBI case files. Stealing his laptop and case files. Copying those files and distributing to her BFF, Alex. Busting onto crime scenes. Handling a gun without a license. STEALING said gun. Hacking into her father's laptop. These are serious crimes. This isn't stealing a pack of gum at 7-11. This is messing with the FBI. I don't care if your father is an agent--you shouldn't be snooping and he shouldn't be letting you. Plus, (and this is something that Janelle brings up and then promptly drops several times), you are a teenager; how can you possibly compare to trained FBI agents?

It was a shame to see how few good, female friends and influences Janelle had. Her best friend, Kate, gave her a roofie laced beer, and now the two teens won't talk. When Kate tries to apologize, it is Janelle who behaves rudely and holier-than-thou--mocking Kate's money (which makes it seem that Janelle is nothing more than a jealous little girl). Cecily's role seems to be to giggle over the cute couple, Janelle and Ben. Nick's ex-girlfriend is cast as a stereotypical Mean Girl. As for adult females, the results are even more dire. Janelle's mother was, as said before, an alcoholic and a manic depressant, a woman so drowned in her own problems, she can't even begin to help Janelle with hers. Deidre, a coworker of Janelle's father, appears very little and isn't a person Janelle confides in. Same with Poblete, Janelle's English teacher. Same with Alex's tyrant mother.

Although men were portrayed in a "better" light, that didn't necessarily mean they were better characters. Janelle's father might not have been portrayed as a jerk, but neglecting his daughter and son is a jerk move. Not doing something about Janelle's mother--another jerk move. It's very hard for me to like a guy that appears, only to act like an idiot (using his daughter's birthday as a code on a safe--sure, I'd believe an esteemed FBI agent would do that!) and drop information so his daughter can steal it and try to "solve the case". And I'm still scratching my head over the incongruity of all the wonderful memories Janelle has of her father and his workaholic tendencies. When did they have time for all the fond memories Janelle has of them? Strutz is a goofy idiot who will let a 16 year old teenager steal a gun and just tell her to "Be safe". Barclay is a stereotypical baddie (though I was impressed at how he changed in the end). Alex is, as I said before, stereotypical Asian nerd.

The two characters I was impressed with were Nick and Ben. For once, our female MC has had experience on the dating scene when she meets her Love Interest. In fact, Janelle is psuedo-dating Nick when she meets Ben. And Nick isn't a bad guy. He is nice and polite when alone with Janelle, but when he is out partying, he becomes reckless and juvenile. And Janelle never decides she "hates" Nick in favor of Ben; she just doesn't think she and Nick mesh. As for Ben, he is pretty darned interesting. I can't tell half of what I find interesting about him, as it occurs in the latter half of the book and is VERY spoilerish, but I will say that he was a good Love Interest and not some abusive dork.

While Janelle and I may not be friends, I can recognize she had good chemistry with Ben. There are quite a few scenes that were very sweet between the two. And while their romance was fairly quick, I did feel like it wasn't exactly insta-love (there were aspects, but Janelle and Ben did try to get to know each other a bit).

I thought maybe I could like the story better. And, to be honest, I did--the first 50 pages and the last 50, that is. The first 50 pages is creepy and haunting; the discovery of the countdown sent shivers down my spine. And then the last 50 pages, where questions get answered and stuff starts happening, were pulse-pounding exciting.

However, in between, it was boring and dull, and the tone completely changed. In the beginning, there is quite a bit of teen drama--"You mean he is dating her?", "Oh, God, my schedule is horrible!" (seriously, this goes on for SEVERAL pages), and the like. But this is abruptly abandoned when Janelle starts learning more about Ben and what her father is investigating. Towards the end, when I want to be on the edge of my seat, the book will break off from the main story and the tension so that Janelle and her brother can go to Disneyland (it was a short scene, but it STILL took away from the main plot) or Janelle and Ben can wake up in her bed after a chaste snuggle.

You know those people whose entire conversation is about what Angelina Jolie was wearing in that movie or the new album they heard? This book was kinda like that person. And it got pretty annoying with all pop culture references. Just to prove I'm not making it up, here is a brief list:

Mission Impossible 2
Tron: Legacy
Rebel without a Cause
the new Wall Street movie
The Exorcist
The Mummy
Ender's Game
The Great Gatsby
La Roux's "Bulletproof"
The Electric Church by Jeff Somers
Whole Foods
Total Recall
Enemy of the State
The Awakening
Star Wars

(May I add that several of these she actually does NOT like and considers "stupid" and "cheesy"?)

I was wondering when Janelle would start talking about how cheesy Star Trek was, or who her favorite Doctor was, or how upset she was that Tom Bombadil was removed from "The Fellowship of the Ring". Norris really should have gotten paid for these; I don't think I've EVER seen so many pop culture references in a book.

And the nerdy part of me obviously got mad at the book in several places (particularly at the end). You see, I am a girl that doesn't like physics; I love physics. So when Janelle made the comment about how impossible traveling through wormholes was, well, I got mad. I did a quick search on Google--and several websites popped up talking about travel through wormholes. This isn't rocket science; I'm not expecting Janelle to know everything. But Ben, a supposedly smart young man, doesn't even correct her; instead, he agrees with her. Along with radiation viruses (really?) and drinks that can tame radiation (huh?), I really hoped that the author did a wee bit more research before plugging in her plot devices.

In the author's defense, I do think that her world was more consistent and believable than I've seen in other books. Places get devastated; people have to run to shelters and desperately look for family and friends. The mechanics of some of the "sciency bits" (which aren't REALLY that sciency, but I'll pretend to be polite) are much more consistent than the time traveling bits in Tempest, for instance. And, as I mentioned above, there were a few characters I liked, some scenes I thought were well done, and the writing was by no means horrible. And one of the absolute best parts of the novel was: it ended. There is no cliffhanger, no "Tune in next time", no silly cheap shot to get audiences to come back for book 2. And in this day of endless series and trilogies, I definitely appreciate THAT. (Though I'll bet my boots--the pair I don't like, of course--that there will be a book 2.)

I think I've gone on long enough to prove my point. It was nice to meet "Unraveling", but I think it's time to go our separate ways. I hope her life is great, that she meets lots of nice people, and gets to experience nice things. I wish her all the best...but I'm glad our little get-together is over. Any longer, and I would have to bring out the lightsaber.
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
530 reviews646 followers
March 17, 2020
*3,5/5 stars*

“Lives are made of strings of moments, and every once in a while, one of those moments is pivotal and defining. It changes everything, alters you so completely that when you look back, there’s a clear before and after.”

Unraveling is surprisingly gripping, unputdownable YA science fiction mystery. The story revolves around family - the hardships of being the only parent to your younger brother, about workaholic FBI agent of a father and bipolar, severely depressed mother. About friendships, discovering that there is something more to people you've always dismissed and never really noticed - especially when the mysterious person in question brings you back to life. And then, of course, one FBI case which might very well lead - literally count down to - the end of the world.

“Humans have precious few instincts, but that's because we don't listen to them. We let logic and knowledge get in the way. My dad always said that when instincts are at war with something society has taught you, listen to your instincts first and ask questions later.”

This book was seriously such a fast and addictive read for me - which was pretty surprising, considering it has almost five hundred freaking pages! And it really put me out of the rotten reading slump I've been in for such a long time.

“Apparently this month is full of surprises. No one is as dumb as I thought they were.”

I really can't say much bad about this book. It has got pretty intriguing plotline, likeable characters - especially the main heroine that you cannot help but completely love because of how tough, mature and responsible she is (she has to be since she practically cares for her whole family), or greatly portrayed relationships - be it the ones of family - which were the best for me, friendship or cute romance.

“Janelle Tenner,” he says. “I will always fucking love you.”

But one of the reasons as to why I'm not giving this book higher rating is that, personally, I couldn't entirely connect to it. Also, while this book is fast-paced, it wouldn't hurt if it was shorter - like even more then one hundred pages shorter - for the story to flow more naturally. The world-building and the idea behind it was very promising, and I'd want to see more of it in the sequels. This book lacked a bit of a spark for me to truly love it, though I think that lots of other readers would connect to it with ease. So definitely make your time for Unraveling, because it was one wild ride full of mystery.

“Life is a fragile thing. Apparently the whole world is fragile too.
But it’ll beat on.
Because it has to.”
Profile Image for Sarah (saz101).
192 reviews151 followers
October 23, 2012
4.5 stars

If the words ‘Science Fiction’ make you want to run for the hills, it’s time to reconsider*. Unravelling is certainly sci-fi, but it’s not what you’re expecting: this is no lycra-covered space opera, but thrilling mystery, heart-stopping action and a heroine with enough snark and savvy to give Veronica Mars a run for her money. If you’re running anywhere, let it be to the bookstore. You need this book.

The Story:
With a largely absent—but painfully wonderful—FBI agent father, a bipolar mother, and a kid brother who doesn’t get fed if his sister’s not around, Janelle Tenner’s had to grow up fast. Too bad no amount of ‘grown up’ helps when you find yourself dead by the side of the road, hit by a speeding truck. But when Janelle wakes up, she’s sure of two things: that she absolutely, positively was dead, and that Ben Michaels—the stoner bad-boy she’s known most her life, but never even spoken to—brought her back.

Janelle’s not-quite-death raises a series of impossible questions that cannot go unanswered, the least of which being that the driver who killed her doesn’t exist. So who is Ben Michaels? Who killed her? And how is all this tied up in her father’s FBI investigation—one involving the appearance of horrifically burned, melting bodies, and a countdown that will stop in twenty five days? But the most important questions is: a countdown to what?

The 101:
Janelle’s slightly more than ‘near’-death experience changes everything for her: Given a second chance at life, she refuses to waste it, and it renders Janelle a very interesting character indeed. Faced with the crushing, the impossible and the heartbreaking , she approaches everything as an opportunity. Janelle’s smart, tenacious, sarcastic and badass, but most of all, she is completely irrepressible, and it makes for a truly fantastic heroine.

From her loyal, hilarious best friend, Alex, to her geeky, sci-fi obsessed dad and his FBI super-hero sidekick, Struz, its rich cast of characters are one of Unravelling’s highlights, and also allow for a very unique story to be told. One girl saving the world would seem inconceivable, if it were not for the people Janelle's surrounded with. How many seventeen year olds do you know with access to top secret FBI case files, guns, and crime scenes? Unravelling’s tightly plotted, impossible mysteries and edge-of-your-seat action are tense and breathtaking, rich with both thrilling and heartbreaking outcomes.

And then there’s the romance. The chemistry Janelle shares with Ben Michaels, the boy who may just have brought her back from the dead, is electric. From glancing touches to deep, bone-melting kisses, the heat is undeniable. But, as you might expect from a boy with the powers of resurrection, this is not smooth sailing, and Ben may be the key to unlocking some alarming secrets—and saving the world. There is little more that can be said without betraying some extraordinary mysteries, but Ben and his friends, Janelle’s accident, the FBI, the gruesomely deformed bodies inexplicably appearing across the city, and the countdown that numbers Unravelling’s chapters are all inextricably linked, drawn together in a twisted, precarious danse macabre.

The Verdict:
Slick, sexy, and action-packed, Unravelling is the literary lovechild of a Fringe and Veronica Mars pairing. Its unstoppable smart-mouthed heroine is the perfect match to end-of-the-world high-stakes, and its extraordinary sci-fi-leaning mysteries make for an electrifying debut. There’s only one problem with Unravelling, and that’s the twelve month wait for the sequel.

* No, seriously: IT’S TIME TO RE-CONSIDER. You’re talking to a card-carrying Browncoat, Whovian, wannabee Jedi-Knight who went to Star Trek conventions as a kid. Watch yo’ self.
October 3, 2016
Update: This book was even better second time around!
This was a fresh new idea to sci-fi. There was plenty of mystery and suspense. I also liked how the blurb gave no clues to Ben's origin or what was causing the end of the world...

Unravelling couldn't have been a more perfect title as that's how everything was revealed. The characters were very well thought of, I could easily picture and relate to all of them. The writing was really engrossing and well done and I also loved the strong American feel to it. There's nothing I love more than seeing a culture and social life that is all "same but different" to my own not to mention I've always been fascinated with the USA as a whole. I've also got to add that I really liked Janelle's character because she's mature, responsible, realistic not to mention strong I mean despite all she lost during the book she was still determined to carry on. Mind you this is coming from someone who has had depression before. :P

I've got to say I found the ending a little far fetched and confusing but other than that this was awesome. I really hope to read Unbreakable soon even though it's description sounds like Time Riders Alex Scarrow and I never took to those books. I hope Unbreakable is just as original as Unravelling. High expectations!
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
October 17, 2014
To be perfectly honest, by the time I read this book I had completely forgotten what it was about. I thought it was a book about the end of the world - and okay in a way it is, but very different from what I had envisioned. Nevertheless, it's a solid story in a lot of ways, and with 400+ pages it could have become an intensely powerful, in-depth read, but instead it felt overcrowded at times with topics like rape, mental illness, and ex best-friend drama (as well as ex-boyfriend) that felt rather directionless. On the other hand, it does offer a slightly different perspective on alternate dimensions, or at least it worked on delivering it in a highly suspenseful way.

The main reason why I wasn't able to enjoy this book as much as many did was my lack of connection to these characters - most of which I didn't very much care for. I found Janelle a bit whiny and her playing mini FBI detective became irritating at times. As far as the numerous side characters: while I'm normally a fan of large casts it was not so in this case. I found most lacked memorable qualities and others were simply underdeveloped. Occasionally, a name would get mentioned and I would have completely forgotten what role that person was playing. Furthermore, I can't say I was a fan of the romance between Janelle and Ben. It wasn't a source of irritation, but It was too quick for me to form any sort of attachment to them. Which is a shame since the relationship becomes the emotional focus of the ending's "what ifs".

With that out of the way, Unraveling earns its points in entertainment value. I mean, it's told with a countdown, how can this not be exciting? From page one it's an obvious cause for concern, continually building tension and anxiety. When we find out what it's counting down to this increases the anticipation even more, making it appear to go even faster - whether it does or if it's simply by the effect of making us turn the pages faster, I do not know, but it was absolutely suspenseful. Then, even though I didn't connect to Janelle, the bond that she has with her little brother is incredibly real and, in turn, the thrilling scenes towards the end are full of emotional uncertainty - hope and fear are mixed in equal measure. Unraveling is also strong as a sci-fi read. The science introduced is thorough without being overwhelming.

If I hadn't read so many alternate universe stories this past year maybe I would have found this one a lot more compelling - though the characters would still have been a hindrance to me. Regardless of my qualms with it, it's it an entertaining read that I would not hesitate to recommend to fans of the genre.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,055 reviews911 followers
April 5, 2016
An Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review. Quotes pulled from the ARC may be incorrect and may be subject to change.

Walking home from school, Janelle gets hit by a truck and dies, but then wakes up again with her classmate Ben hovering over her. She believes he healed her and is determined to find out why and how. I can’t write anymore just because it would spoil everything and I don’t want to do that!

As for the characters?? Janelle was an interesting enough character. I like how she’s incredibly intelligent and has a photographic memory. She does have quite a temper I might add. She has reason to be though. As for Ben? Well I just hope to see more of him in the next book! Even the secondary characters like Janelle’s best friend Alex plays a big role.

Just reading the synopsis for this just made me want the ARC even more! Girl saves the world? Why the hell not? I love how the chapters countdown the impending doom. The concept is definitely original and I love how everything unraveled. (hah I just had to). There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the characters and so many questions Janelle wants answered and believe me, she gets them answered. Can I see this on the silver screen? YES! I’d love for this to be a movie. I just hope it would be done well.

Highly recommended for any science fiction, and mystery lover!
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews152 followers
April 25, 2012
4.5 stars fast, thrilling, shocking!

Four and 1/2 Stars! A debut author that will amaze you with her riveting X-Files type book.

Janelle is finishing her last shift life guarding at the beach.  The summer is waning, school is starting.  She heads to the parking lot to find her car covered in obscene graffiti and four slashed tires.  She surveys the mess holding back tears, but rather than let the mean girls get the best of her, she calls for help and decides to jog home.  A quick call on her cell to the one person who always answers her calls, Alex, she has the situation in hand until the screeching of tires and a pick up truck out of nowhere collides into her.  Pain and then memories flash through Janelle's mind, and she knows, without a doubt, she is dead.  Then she catches a glimpse of herself through someone else's eyes.  Someone who obviously loves her very much.  The scents of gasoline, mint and soap tickle her nose, and a voice pulls her back assuring her she will be okay, now.  Janelle's eyes flicker open to meet the dark depth's of Ben, the stoner's eyes.  Why would Ben, a boy she hardly knows, be here helping her?  Then he is gone and she blacks out.  A few days later, Janelle is convinced that she not only was brought back from the dead but also that the mysterious, aloof Ben facilitated her return.  She sets out to snoop through her father's files.  As an FBI agent, he is going to investigate into the run away truck that nearly killed his daughter.  The files turn up some disturbing information.  The truck was a unknown make and model, registered to no one and there are no records on it.  The driver was dead from severe radiation burns.  He is not the only one with these burns.  Several other bodies have popped up in the vicinity with these same flesh melting burns.  Then there appears to be some type of count down associated with each victim.  What is the clock ticking down to?  Is it the end of the world as Janelle knows it?  Can she somehow help unravel the clues to stop it in time?

What I Liked:
*I was completely riveted from the opening pages of this book.  It begins with Janelle's untimely death and restoration and the action keeps on coming.  This book is thick with mystery, suspense and the unexpected.  If you want a book that has an X-Files type story, you need to read Unraveling.  This book has a complex and intriguing storyline that is full of surprises.  
*I admired the heroine, Janelle.  Ms. Norris takes her time to carefully create our main character.  She is tough, yet tender hearted.  She has tenacity and is determined, and this girl knows heart break and sacrifice.  The situation with her mentally ill mother is difficult and heart wrenching.  Janelle is a character that will stick with me. 
*Janelle has a best friend, Alex, (who by the way is charming) who has stuck by her side through thick and thin, always.  He is absolutely everything a girl could want in a best friend.  Not once was there any inclination that the relationship was anything but a friendship.  When Ben is introduced as the love interest, I can't lie,  I spent the whole book trying to determine whether the book would move into love triangle territory or not.  I actually liked that the book kept me guessing the entire way through.  (I am not going to spill it, you need to read and see for yourself.)
*Ben is wonderful.  I can't say too much about him because I want you to discover him for yourself.  He is noble and kind, as well as an enigma.  I particularly liked that he is first presented as a stoner character, a boy who hides in the shadows, not wanting to draw attention to himself.  Oh, but he is so much more.  Ben is a reminder to never judge a person based on appearances and stereotypes because he is complex and so mislabeled.  Honestly, I think this was one of my favorite aspects of the book was learning all of Ben's secrets and seeing into the depths of his soul.  I think Ben is definitely going to steal a few hearts out there.  
*Part of me liked, and the other part hated it, that the author wasn't afraid to take chances and pack some heart wrenching scenes in this book.  I loved and hated the ending as well.  No cliffhanger, but plenty of big shocks and so far from the expected happily ever after.  I applaud Ms. Norris for daring to color outside the lines.  It isn't easy to go against the popular happy ending.  However, I felt that the heart tugging circumstances that Janelle is left with make it easy for the author to follow up with hopefully a sequel, in which Ben fulfills his promise and Janelle is able to leave because there is very little holding her back.  I can't say more without giving big details away. 
And The Not So Much:
*I only have a couple of small complaints, first I found it a bit hard to believe that a teenager could just abscond with some highly sensitive FBI files and not have the suits chasing her.  Despite the fact that she gets away a bit by playing the "whose my daddy card", it still is not believable that she could meddle in a a big top secret investigation.  This is a  not a big deal, but it was just one of those details that bothered me.
*I never got a clear picture as to who Strus, her father's partner was.  He ends being an important character but there is little detail on him.  I wish he was a bit better described.
*There is story line (the ruined friendship between Kate and Janelle) that keeps popping up repeatedly throughout the book that I expected to have some big impact due to the references but it never comes to fruition.  Granted, I think the author used it to show another way how Janelle develops a tough skin and also to show how Ben came to her rescue, unbeknownst to Janelle.  I just felt that there was something more, especially when Kate wants to talk to her.  I was left at the end of the book wondering why this repeated story line was not seen through to the end.
*A few parental cautions, there is cussing and usage of the "f word" as well as some mentions of teen drinking and a potential date rape scene.  Nothing over the top or disturbing by any  means but if you prefer to keep this type of content out of younger readers' hands then you may want to take this into consideration.

Unraveling is a debut author book for 2012 that is going to have the YA world a buzz.  This book is a blend of s sci-fi,apocalyptic countdown and mystery thriller, with a touching romance that will grab onto your imagination.  Ms. Norris is talented writer who knows how to write an engaging story.  If this is just the beginning, I can't wait to see what she can do next.  This is a compelling read that will generate an array of emotions.  Be prepared for the thrilling and the unexpected when you read this one.  I hope that there is indeed going to be a sequel.  If you are looking for an excellent debut author book, I would highly recommend Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris. 

Favorite Quotations:

“The blackness bleeds to white, so bright it glows.  Heat floods my body, and I’m on fire.  It feels like the light is burning me from the inside out.”

“And the emotion I feel is undoubtedly love---heart aching, chest filling, so powerful it hurts, like these are memories of someone watching me, someone whose happiest moments are when he sees me smile, and someone who aches and feels powerless and heartbroken when he knows I’m sad.  Someone who loves me.”

“The lines in his face are starting to show, and his hair is starting to gray.  He wears “tired” like an old friend.”

“The shirt from a concert two summers ago I didn’t even go to, because the book I was reading turned out to be crack.”

“Lives are made of strings of moments, and every once in a while, one of those moments i pivotal and defining.”

“I smile, and that’s all it takes.  He leans forward and our lips touch, and it’s like his lips were made to fit around mine.”

“My whole body gives itself up to sorrow at that moment, and I’m shaking and trying to suck down too much air at one time.  My whole body feels numb, to the point where I don’t feel like I have limbs anymore.  I’m just a floating head, an outpouring of emotion, a heart that doesn’t seem to know how to beat regularly anymore.”

Note the quotations are taken from an ARC copy kindly provided to me by Balzer+Bray Publishing in exchange for a fair review.
Posted @ http://rainydayramblings.typepad.com/
Profile Image for Danny.
597 reviews159 followers
May 3, 2012
Review first posted at Bewitched Bookworms

This is one of the first things that you see when you start reading the book - every chapter has instead of a title, this countdown! Yes it's a countdown and i was immediately back into 24 - this fast paced incredible thrilling series with Kiefer Sutherland. But, the reference is not too far off. Unraveling is fast pasted, thrilling, captivating and incredible addicting! Once you started - you won't stop! I loved this countdown, it totally served the point: You are always on edge, trying, no - needing to figure out what the heck this countdown means because Janelle has no idea either...

Janelle - kick-ass, strong brave loyal, caring and sweet!
Due to family problems Janelle is left to care for ber baby brother Jared - who is beyond awesome and anyone will love this boy insanely! He has a rare disorder and he needs special care - Janelle would do anything for her brother! Anything, this sweet love between the siblings was incredible sweet, heartwarming and beautiful! I would have already loved her just for this! But, Janelle is more and she's strong and she's brave and smart! There is nothing about her that made me love her any less!

Janelle died and now what?... and what role plays beautiful and troubled Ben?

Her life changes after this horrible incident where she died and somehow this mysterious boy was there. Ben. She never really "saw" him before although they go to the same school, yet they were not in the same crowd. Ben was considered one of the bad and troubled boys! (but girls, let's be honest - we love tortured troubled boys don't we?) But, Janelle wouldn't be her father's daughter (FBI Agent) if she wouldn't want to know precisely what is going on! It's not in her nature to give up! But while going after the truth - she gets to know Ben better and suddenly there is so much more tim him than a troubled boy! So.much.more! *sigh* Ben is to love, as simple as that!

Full of Suspense, Intrigue , Drama- Heartbreak, Love and ... Thrill
The whole story was very rich and full of suspense and intrigue! Apart from figuring out about Ben and her death-no-death, there is this countdown from one of her fathers files and a murder series. It was a mix of "24", "X-Files" and  a FBI show . I loved this combination - and it left us always in edge trying to figure out all those mysteries.
But, don't forget the love between Ben and Janelle, which was incredible sweet and beautiful! Perfectly genuine and nothing in their connection seemed forced and unreal. This romance is woven effortless in the mystery part of the book!

The ending left me sobbing, I was truly sobbing and wiping away tears - I couldn't imagine Elizabeth Norris would really do this to us. You know when you are always hoping for some last-minute change in events? Something you know is inevitable yet you hope you are proven wrong? That's the ending and .. it will leave you breathless, full of tears and heartbreak! But I promise this book is worth every of your tears!

Bottom Line
Elizabeth Norris created with Unraveling a thrilling tale that is full of intrigue, suspense, drama, heartbreak and sweet love, perfected with beautiful and wonderful characters that will need a place in your heart! Unraveling took my by surprise, I loved every second I spend between those pages and that I spend with Janelle, Ben and Jared. It was full of twists and turns, I didn't see coming and twists that broke my heart! Don't miss out on this unique and fresh YA story with a wonderful mix of genres!
Profile Image for Soumi.
Author 1 book378 followers
August 12, 2014
When seventeen years old Janelle Tenner was hit by a tuck and died, she felt she was dying. Soon she brought back to life completely unharmed and found Ben Michaels, a loner guy from her school she barely knows, leaning over her. She knows Ben had something to do with her revival but she doesn’t know how. Desperate to know truth behind her accident, Janelle sneaks in her FBI father’s study and discover investigation files on unidentified radiation victims, also a timer that is counting down towards zero. Somehow all the incidents are connected together, and Janelle has 24 hours to solve the mystery and save the world from destroying before the timer stops.

A Story of Both Science to Art

Unraveling was an immensely entertaining, and nerve-wrecking suspense flowed well with this action-packed si-fi thriller. As a follower of both science and literature, I was completely surprised to see how beautifully the author blended one into another. From concept of quantum mechanics and genetic engineering to wave function collapse theory and alternate universe. I was stunned by the amount of research author did to write this novel and how brilliantly she explained those scientific theories in terms literature.

Although the story is little influenced by both X-files and Veronica Mars, but it has originality that kept me constantly flipping through pages. The book contains mysteries at large quantity that unraveled one by one with proper and satisfying explanations. One thing I like about this book is whenever I was about to discover something, the whole thing turned out into something else, I wasn’t prepared for, all those turnarounds left me open mouthed.

Countdown to Characters and Romance

Elizabeth Norries delivers a gripping storyline using Janelle as the strong voice of narration, which made the whole plot believable and her art of describing incidents made the whole “end of world” process much more realistic. Janelle is an independent and realistic girl who knows her responsibility well. If I were in Jenelle’s place, I would have done same dare devil attempts to discover the truth and save the world as well as those person I care for. She is one of those very uncommon characters I could easily relate myself to.

Ben was absolutely amazing by both his down to earth appearance and sweet caring nature. The secret he kept hidden was absolute explosive that can either harm you or save you. I loved Ben, he seemed very believable and real to me, also different from other YA male protagonist. Ben is deadly combination of charm with brain and it is rare to find an intellectual YA hero, aren’t they??

The romance was slow burning and definitely not conventional, it was rather bold and modern. They don’t believe in romantic quote from Dickens, they prefer being honest with lines like “I fucking love you”. I was drawn into emotion by this gradually developed romance.

There is another person in this story who touched my heart, Alex, the best friend. Although there is no triangle and I really appreciate that the author didn’t include so called best friend-boy friend drama. Alex reminded me of my best friend; always supportive and caring, just like the guy next door.

That Timer

The story was broken into sections corresponding to timer countdown as chapter headers and it was a brilliant idea of making the readers feel the same fear as Janelle, at least my heart raced faster than usual as the story progressed and time was slipping from Janelle’s hand.

Twisty and gripping, Unraveling is kind of novel that has something for everyone. With flawless writing and brilliant story line, Unraveling will not disappoint you.

An ARC was provided by the publishers in exchange for a honest review
Profile Image for Katy.
611 reviews333 followers
March 25, 2012
This book had a truly awesome story. Unfortunately, it was a beating to get through and let me really angry pretty much all the way through, and I was more than ready for it to be over. I would rate it lower, but I kind of feel guilty because the book does have a lot of potential.

I really liked the concept, and the story development could have been really beautiful. I would elaborate, but it was almost halfway through this really, really long book that I found out what was really going on. I can't believe Norris made me suffer that long, but since she intended to introduce the "truth" there, I'll have to leave readers in the dark. Sorry folks, can't ruin the experience for you.

The experience for me made me wary. You already know that I felt this book was WAY too long. I thought Norris put too much into one book. The beginning scene with Nick, the experience after the accident, her mission to find out what's going on and after the big reveal was a little bit all too much. At times, I felt like they were different stories, and while they were great individually, I kind of wish Norris had saved some of them for ideas on future books. It just felt all crammed pack in there, and it made everything confusing - not in the I don't understand what's going on kind of confused, but the everything is so chaotic confused.

And I'm always up for twists. I like it when a book surprises me. But again, I felt Norris tried to put in too many twists in there. While it kept me on my toes, there were times that I felt the twist came from nowhere. Like the big reveal. And also she threw in FALSE twists in there just to catch you off guard. For example, the scene where WHAT-THE-EFF was that?!? I'm sorry, but that made me angry. If he had felt guilt, his delivery and/or her reaction would have been written differently. And like I said, I like having twists to keep me on my toes, but Norris threw in SO many, that by the fifth one, I just started getting really annoyed.

I was ready for this book LONG before it ended. And by two-thirds of the way through, I was ready to give up. But of course, I had to keep turning the page, and just when I thought the book would end, whoops, hold on folks, there's more.

The end - or the REAL end is probably this book's saving grace for me. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and made me want to cry. But by then I was just exhausted.

I'm sure many will think this is an amazing book. And as I said, the story is really great. It's all that other stuff in there that really bogged the story down, and I truly felt Norris could have cut about half of that stuff out, and the book would be totally awesome.
Profile Image for Zoey Talbon.
198 reviews97 followers
April 4, 2015
I don't know if I can even begin to explain why I love this book so much. I don't care if sci-fi isn't your favorite genre to read. I don't care what your favorite genre is: this is a book I think most people will like. (Unless you have an issue with swearing. There's quite a bit of that.)

Unraveling reminded me of why I love sci-fi so much. There are so many different ways you can make it unique, and Elizabeth Norris definitely knows her stuff when it comes to that. Unraveling has the perfect amount of suspense and mystery and romance, all tied together with a bittersweet ending.

Janelle is tough but caring at the same time. She's the kind of character that sticks out; the kind of character that you can't forget. She's determined and sneaky and plenty of other adjectives - all good ones.

The chemistry Janelle and Ben have together is amazing. Their relationship develops so well, and when Janelle thinks Ben might not be as good as he seems, she's afraid. She doesn't think it's okay just because she maybe-sorta likes him. Their relationship is real, regardless of the sci-fi aspects that brought them together.

Unraveling involves a countdown, so the suspense is constantly present. The countdown at the beginning of each chapter reminds you that no matter what happened in the previous chapter, the danger is still there. The hunt to find out what the countdown is for and then find a way to stop it is always on.

Overall: Suspense. Twists and turns everywhere. Plenty of hot guys. There wasn't a single character I didn't like. There wasn't a single thing about this entire book that I didn't like. Unraveling is deserving of 5 stars.
260 reviews104 followers
March 30, 2016
One ordinary night, Janelle Tenner gets hit by a truck. And then brought back to life. By Ben Michaels, of all people. Her determination to find out why he did it and to learn about everything involving the incident leads her to becoming involved in a case her FBI dad is working on. People have been found dead with severe radiation burns, only no-one can figure out where these people came from or how they got radiation poisoning. Even worse, a device has been found. It's counting down. And it can't be stopped. It's not long before Janelle realises Ben knows more about this than he's letting on.

Something I thought worked really well was the way Elizabeth Norris has set this book out. By using time as a marker instead of chapter numbers, the layout became much more flexible, something which the author used to her advantage. I liked the fact that the 'chapter' lengths were varied, as it helped emphasise certain events or memories, moments in time that were significant for one reason or another and that tugged on my emotions because they were highlighted so. Norris' writing style, too, is very engaging. The action moments were fast-paced, and the more emotional moments were well-crafted. I thought the characters were also fleshed out nicely here; they had layers, and were realistic - although there was something about the dialogue that bothered me. Swearing. Now, I don't mind if a book uses that kind of language. It can add to the realism and really have an effect if used appropriately. The problem arises when it's used unnecessarily. Not every teenager swears. The swearing in here felt quite forced which meant that any impact was lost. It was as though it had been added just for the sake of it, and it didn't work.

That leads me nicely to the characters themselves. I loved Janelle's strength. She was determined to find out what was happening and see it through to the end, all the while taking care of her little brother. It was moving to see how she had to be the parent, with her mother suffering from bipolar and her father barely around. She could have broken and given up a long time ago, yet she was unwilling to do that and bore everything that came her way. She had her best friend Alex to rely on but at the same time remained independent. Alex himself was dependable, and I was glad he stayed by her side. Ben was so sweet. It was actually quite touching to see how he remembered things about Janelle while she had barely noticed him until something big happened. There was so much more to him than it appeared, something she realises. It just goes to show that appearances can be totally unreliable.

The plot twist was brilliant. Now, I'm not a hard-core sci-fi fan, but you're looking (well, OK, not looking, but you get what I mean) at a girl who's in love with Dr Who. Does that give you some clue? Maybe not. A lot of stuff happens in Dr Who. I could give you a list, but that would take forever. Just go watch it. Anyway. This was a totally unexpected, totally gripping turn in the book, and if you're into sci-fi, this is definitely for you. I loved the whole concept of it and thought that it was very well thought out.

And, oh, the ending! Possibly the most emotional part of the whole book. Once more Janelle's strength came into play. That girl knows how not to be selfish. By this point she's lost more than she thought possible, and still she refuses to break. Janelle Tenner, I salute you. And Ben also, for being willing to sacrifice the one thing he's worked towards for years. I love the fact that Norris has created strong characters, easy to sympathise with and relate to.

Overall, this is a gripping read that always has you in suspense. Filled with strong characters, an engaging and complex plotline and a dollop of unpredictability, Unravelling is a book that will leave you wanting more.

This review is also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for mith.
740 reviews256 followers
December 4, 2017
Man, I love this book. It's definitely one of those lowkey problematic books, because come on. It used the ill-fated "I let out the breath I didn't realise I'd been holding" four bloody times. And also "I'm not like other girls", as if being like other girls is a bad thing. (Girls are so fucking great, y'all, just so great.)
But whatever! Whatever, yknow? It's just one of those books. And I adore it even though it hurts me when I get to certain scenes. I'm glad I reread it! I still really enjoyed it.
Also I love Ben. I can't help it, I just really love Ben.
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