Series: Unraveling #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 24th 2012
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.
Unraveling was definitely a thrill ride from start to finish! I really enjoyed Liz Norris’s writing style, she pulled me in immediately and with the short, sharp chapters I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down. I love movies with end of the world type scenarios and parallel universes so was interested to see how it would unfold on the pages and was thrilled to find I was just as excited and could visualise the world perfectly.
Janelle was a great character, I connected with her immediately and really sympathised with her situation. She’s had a lot to deal with her in life, a workaholic dad, an ill mom, looking after her little brother not to mention dealing with attempted sexual assault and losing her friendships because of it. Janelle can only rely on herself and her best friend Alex and together they make a really mature, supportive team which was lovely to witness.
When Janelle “dies” after being hit by a car and is brought back to life by the enigmatic Ben Michaels, a rollercoaster ride of mystery, murder and mayhem takes hold of Janelle’s life and things will never be the same. When Janelle, Alex and Ben team up to stop a countdown to the destruction of their world they discover just how far some people will go to stop them.
I loved the countdown to destruction aspect of the book, it kept the pace frenetic and I never experienced that lull that usually occurs in action books. The science was believable and its inclusion wasn’t too overwhelming. I won’t focus on the plot too much in this one because there are several reveals that will blow your mind and I don’t want to spoil them.
The characterisation was the books biggest strength in my opinion. I really liked the exploration into Janelle’s life especially her relationships with her family. The weight of the world is quite literally on her shoulders at times and she handles it with a grace I found really admirable. Her relationships with Alex and her brother Jared were sweet and real, I loved the compassion and love they clearly all shared for each other.
Janelle’s relationship with her parents frustrated me, I wanted her to be the kid for once and not have to deal with the drama. It’s understandable considering the positions that both her parents were in but it saddened me that she was put in the positions she was in.
I enjoyed how Janelle’s relationship with Ben developed. While the inexplicable connection was there, I never got a whiff of insta-love. The romance aspect didn’t overshadow the action either which was wonderful instead acting as a complement.
Norris pulls no punches with the plot and isn’t afraid to break her readers hearts and I certainly shed a few tears reading this book. Usually a story so packed with action will sacrifice the emotion but Norris brings tons of heart and feeling to her words and really made me care for her characters.
There was one aspect that really bothered me and that was the fact that the kids ran around like mini-FBI agents, hacking into databases, stealing files from Janelle’s Dad and partner, messing with evidence and the adults shared vital, classified information with Janelle as if she was an agent herself. It’s a small gripe but it took away from my enjoyment as I don’t think the FBI would be quite so easy to manipulate or so careless with their case-loads.
Unraveling is definitely cat-nip for a sci-fi geek, I adored the X-Files references, it was filled with suspense and tension until the explosive, heart-wrenching ending I still can’t believe happened! A wonderful story of love, honour, courage and family wrapped in sci-fi goodness with a healthy topping of the paranormal, I recommend Unraveling to anybody looking for a story of a kick-ass heroine willing to protect her family and her world with everything she’s got.