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.
The cover and description of Unraveling are interesting enough that I had Elizabeth Norris’ debut on my to-read list, but it was the book trailer released by Harper Teen that elicited the most excitement (and the undeniable need to read it). I was, understandably, pumped to find a copy of Unraveling in my mailbox, but I had no idea how seriously badass it would be.
I thought this novel was primarily a thriller and hadn’t realized that it would have some solid science fiction elements as well. I can’t really tell you what I specifically loved about this book without some major spoilers, but holy macaroni is it fantastic. For now, I suppose you’ll just have to take my word for it, but I seriously can’t wait to see how people react to the twists and unique elements.
I will say, I’m not sure this idea is wholly original… There were a couple popular television shows with definite similarities that came to mind as I read. But, then again, many stories have similar plots. I would only have had a real issue with this if the rest of the novel (characters, dialogue, setting, etc) fell short, which wasn’t the case.
The only aspect of the novel that I sometimes struggled with was the romance. I actually quite liked Ben and Janelle together, but I felt like Janelle fell for Ben a bit too quickly. Norris clearly explains Ben’s feelings for Janelle, but sometimes I wondered if Janelle’s main attraction for Ben was inspired by his strong feelings for her. Basically, he likes me so I like him. Not that Ben didn’t deserve her attention… he so did.
I expected Unraveling to be good, but it exceeded my expectations by far. I can’t wait to read more from Norris!
Balzer+Bray, HarperTeen, April 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780062103733, 445 pages
Check out the book trailer: