Saturday, September 15, 2012

Unraveling (Unraveling #1) by Elizabeth Norris: review

Goodreads rating: 3.92
Hardcover, 445 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Series: Unraveling #1

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

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

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.

Unraveling is a very smart and well-written sci-fi mystery novel. I never wanted to put this down! I think sometimes the reason I give books lower ratings is because they're either cliche or the book is not up to my smartness standards (yes, that's a real thing) that have moved up since I was a teen. But this was perfection. We're literally hit with the first piece of action almost right off the bat. Janelle gets hit by a truck when she finds her own vehicle's tires slashed and she decides that she doesn't want to be the damsel in distress (which is basically Janelle in a nutshell). Then she wakes up to find Ben, a stoner boy Janelle has seen at school but has never once talked to, and somehow he healed her. But how? Turns out, Janelle's accident isn't the first of strange happenings in town. And it's not the end of them either. People are popping up dead and they're literally unidentifiable. Like they don't exist on any records anywhere in the world. Janelle's dad works for the FBI and so she knows something's up. But she would never guess how connected she is to all of this when she finds pictures with countdown numbers on them. Now it's a race against the end of the world, and Janelle will lose people close to her no matter how hard she fights. 

Another breathtaking romance that I couldn't help but love. Ben is in the foster care system so that's why he hangs out with those kind of people: drop-outs, stoners, loners and the like. But he's liked Janelle since the first moment they met (which is very sweet, and a moment that Janelle didn't even realize that it was Ben). When Ben heals Janelle, he comes back into her life in a big way. She needs his help finding out how all these people are getting radiation burns so bad that they're dying. But she doesn't realize that he's involved somehow until she's fallen in love with him. And of course he's always been in love with Janelle, she just didn't know it. It's funny; usually I can remember more about the romance than the actual story of a book, but this story is so unique that the details of the romance are kind of slipping my mind. But the only big cliffhanger in this book is with the romance, so I'll be interested to see where this series is going to go from here. Ben is very sweet even though he's forced to be secretive around Janelle because of what he can do. Eventually though, with the help of her father's research and Janelle's own snooping, she figures out some things about him that shouldn't be possible. It's bigger than Janelle could have ever imagined, and because of Ben, she's not involved.

The characters were really delved into, even some of the minor ones. I get the feeling we're going to find out more about some of them in the next one, but I got enough to understand the kind of people some of these characters are. I even liked Ben's friends, but pretty much whenever Elijah spoke, he said the f-word, just as a warning. I was surprised by who turned out to be the bad guy. I mean, I had my suspicions that were kind of close, but I didn't really see it coming until just before the big reveal. The big message with this bad guy: desperation really does things to change a person. This book felt very real to me, despite it being a sci-fi book. I connected with the characters and could actually see this happening. The countdown idea was interesting, and kind of reminded me of the show 24, but instead it was more like 24 days instead of 24 hours. I loved everything about this book and I can't wait to see what happens in the next book!

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