Series: Unraveling, #1
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Pages: 445 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.
From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl’s fight to save herself, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.
While I do enjoy Dystopian novels, it was refreshing to read a YA Sci-Fi that takes place before the fall of society. It took a little while for me to get into, since it seemed like nothing much was happening other than Janelle snooping in her father's files, complaining about her classes, and sniffing Ben. He smells like mint, soap, and gasoline, BTW. Then the horribly burned bodies start turning up, and even the FBI can't identify who these people are. There's also a mysterious machine with a countdown. Is it a bomb? a virus dispenser? something else we can't even imagine?
I did love Janelle! She's smart, confident, knows what she wants, and isn't willing to just sit around while life passes her by. She might be a little full of herself at times, but she's not conceited or cocky. At home she's always taking care of everyone else, so I think she deserves to be a little selfish. I would trust this girl to handle the end of the world. She's not whiny, boy crazed, or incompetent. If she doesn't know something, she's willing to do anything in order to find out. Even impersonate an FBI agent and wave a (unloaded) gun!
I also liked seeing her relationship with her parents. All too often, the parents seem to missing from YA novels, but Janelle's are very much present. She loves her father fiercely, and he's a bit of a dork when he's not over working himself. As for her mother, well, she's bipolar and spends much of the book in her down state. Janelle loves her mother, too, but it's harder. She acts more like the parent, since her mother often can't even get out of bed. Jared, Janelle's younger brother, also plays a major role. It was nice to see a teen boy who obviously respects his sister.
There is one minor thing that nagged at me for most of the book. It's not a huge deal, or anything even important at all, but I have a tendency to latch onto inconsistencies that I notice. Each time Janelle mentions using her cell phone I wanted to scream, "How are you using it if you shattered it on page 151?!?!" It's true, she does, but as soon as page 163 she's already checking her texts again. Like I said, it's not even important, but it definitely stood out to me.
Anyway, I never figured out the big mystery that's taking place in San Diego. I had one theory but it was just a passing thought. It happened to be partially correct though, but not in the way I was thinking. This made for an engaging read. The pacing was a bit on the slow side, especially in the beginning, but things definitely pick up in the last third.
Unraveling is another winner of a debut, and a great start to what appears to be a promising series (although I was disappointed when I found out this wasn't a standalone). It's a little on the long side, but I think it's well worth a read.
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