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Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Unraveling (edition 2012)

by Elizabeth Norris

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3254734,071 (3.73)None
Authors:Elizabeth Norris
Info:Balzer Bray (2012), Hardcover, 464 pages

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Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris



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Another unrealistically bad ass teenager saves the day, but isn't that pretty much what you'd expect from the genre? I enjoyed the story because of the characters and their interactions -- and of course the references to the X-Files, Firefly, and San Diego ComicCon -- not because I found the parallel universe or the teenage FBI-style agents believable.

I really liked how vivid the characters were in my mind as I listened and how real the relationships felt, with the exception of Janelle's mother. She was reduced to a caricature of someone suffering from bipolar (who clearly wasn't being properly medicated) and had no real relationship with anyone, to the point that I wondered why she was even in the story. (At one point I thought maybe she'd been snatched from another universe as a child and that's why she was mentally unstable, but there was nothing to that effect in the first or second books in the series.)

I enjoyed the parallel universe idea only b/c it's something I hadn't yet encountered in YA dystopian sci-fi, and I read so much of that that I always appreciate a different angle. But the whole idea of separate universes that have the exact same people (down to the same names) seems completely improbable. The moment one universe separates from another, some people would inevitably make different decisions that would lead to completely different outcomes -- and offspring. Some of the first generation offspring might be similar to their parallel universe counterparts, but after a few more generations, they'd undoubtedly diverge to the point that the second universe would be filled with completely different people.

That drove me crazy about the parallel universes in the TV show Fringe, as well. And yet I really loved the show. I gave this book four stars, so clearly I'm capable of hoisting my disbelief out of the way if I enjoy the characters enough :-) ( )
  PerpetualRevision | Oct 25, 2015 |
Things all start when Janelle Tenner is killed by a truck, however she's saved by a boy, a boy she has noticed but has never seemed to notice her back. Now she's involved in a race against time to save the world, but can their romance survive.

I liked this one, liked the characters and how they made hard decisions because they should, and weren't afraid to abide by those decisions. An interesting read that kept me wondering. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Oct 16, 2014 |
When it comes to Unraveling, I had just been looking for something quick and easy to read. Don't get me wrong, I've had it for a long time and thought the summary sounded good, sadly when I read it I got just that, a quick and easy ready that didn't wow me at all.

Janelle, the main character, is working her last day at the beach, its also the last day of summer before she goes back to school. Everything seems to be going fine, she's with her boyfriend, they haven't had an incident in the water (she's a lifeguard) and she's making plans with her friends, until while leaving to pick her brother up she is hit by by a truck and brought back to life (a little bit Twilight-esk move if you ask me) by the school's loner Ben. She knows she's died, because her life flashes before her eyes and she is remembering things about her mother before she was unhappy most of the time. Not only is she remembering things about her self, but it seems she is also seeing into Ben's thoughts and memories as he heals her. She knows she's right, and not crazy, but trying to corner and confront Ben is looking like a more difficult task than she thought.

At home her mum is bi-polar and no longer the person she once was, her dad is an FBI agent and constantly away all the time, which leaves her and her brother Jared. She practically raises him, feeds him and makes sure he gets to school on time. Hell she practically looks after them all. But her dad is on a new case a bit closer to home, one with a series of strange and random deaths. Janelle and her best friend Alex decided to do some investigating their self but Janelle soon finds out that the deaths, and her new mysterious Ben, may be linked in ways she never thought possible. Doubt of her new love interest and the discovery of a clock counting down to something terrible, Janelle knows that no matter what she might find she has to keep on searching for answers. After all she's lost too much already.

If I'm honest, I didn't like Janelle's character, that's not to say she was a bad one, I just did.. feel a spark with her. I didn't really get her relationship with Ben, at times I felt she thought she 'loved him' more out of the fact that he saved her life. There was moments when I felt like it was all one sided. It's strange, with Ben I never doubted his feelings, they were right out there in the open and granted I felt them to be a bit borderline stalkerish sometimes, they were still true. There were only a handful of times I felt anything for Janelle's character, times when it was just impossible not to. So like I said, she wasn't a bad character I just found her annoying at times. As far as sub characters go, I loved Alex, he made me laugh and really seemed like a loyal friend (at times I thought he was secretly in love with Janelle but I've been wrong before) and he was just a character that I warmed to. Ben's best friend Elijah and Reid however I could not. I think that is because they didn't try setting any roots down or connecting with more people, they were just so focused on one thing and even though I know it was a big thing, I also would have liked to see them actually give others the time of day instead of just brushing them of

So much happened in this book and it made it damn near impossible to stay focused. If it was spaced out a little bit more between the series than maybe I would have liked it better. I really liked the idea behind the story, and I also know it was a début so I'm hoping that the others will be better. I didn't hate this book, not really. I just expected more than what I got but that's due to my own stupidly high standards. ( )
  Staciesnape | Sep 14, 2014 |
This book is a great empowering read for young adults. Young adults because of words and content. It is about a girl who comes back from a near death experience and relives her life in a new found light. It's inspiring so much that I wish I had books like this to read when I was in high school. It would definitely help students over come high school social group pressures.
  DayDreamBear | Apr 24, 2014 |
Janelle knows she died that day the truck hit her. All she remembers is seeing it hurtling toward her, then darkness. Then excruciating pain—and her classmate, Ben Michaels, standing over her. She knows she died, but she knows Ben brought her back.

This is freaky in and of itself, but things are starting to get even stranger in Janelle's life. Her father, an FBI agent, is investigating cases where unidentified bodies are showing up, with the cause of death being extreme radiation burns. They can't figure out where the bodies are coming from, or what caused the burns. In addition to all this, they've found a device with a countdown, though they aren't sure what the device does (is it a bomb? something worse?) and are unable to deactivate it. Janelle and her best friend Alex start their own investigation, eventually joined by Ben and his friends, but they may have gotten in over their heads—the fate of their world might be at stake.

Unraveling is a page-turner, for sure. It is a mystery, an apocalypse story, a love story, an action story all rolled into one. Janelle is an interesting character, and I enjoyed being in her head. She swears a lot, which I found pretty typical for a teenager, and she has a no-nonsense attitude that I liked.

As far as plot goes, when one of the big reveals happened (those who've read the book know which one I'm talking about), I did an eye-roll and thought, Really? But once the initial inner groaning stopped, I got back into the story. I really wanted to know why these strange and supposedly unexplained things were happening. I also loved that Norris made Janelle, her younger brother Jared, and her dad huge X-Files fans, which probably got me more excited about the unexplained stuff. Not that I was ever a huge X-Files fan, but it lent a nice flavor and atmosphere that would have been missing otherwise.

I read Anna's review for this on her blog while I was reading the book, and one thing I couldn't agree more with: I had a hard time believing Janelle's dad would leave his FBI files out everywhere for Janelle to find. It should not be that easy to hack into the federal government's system, even if it is your dad. Or, you know, go into his office and just grab papers and read them. Not likely. I almost wish Janelle had been older and an FBI agent herself; I think it would have been more believable.

Lovers of romance will be happy, too, since Ben turns out to be a romantic interest for Janelle, though *gasp* it's a forbidden romance! To me, this wasn't a huge plot point in the novel since I wasn't that interested in their quickly developed relationship/didn't really care if they ended up together, but I know I'm speaking only for myself. The more important aspect for me was the adventure and mystery of it all.

A couple more things that annoy me. 1) The cover. Janelle is described as olive-skinned, and to me the girl on the cover seems a bit whitewashed for my tastes. Also, I usually hate covers with models. 2) There were some characters that I found to be unnecessarily added in. Not a whole lot of development, not a whole lot of purpose, but in there enough for me to wonder why they were important. There were also a few subplots that didn't really turn into anything and I couldn't help but wonder why they were even included at all, since they were distracting from the real story.

Despite a few weak plot points and issues with suspension of disbelief, Unraveling was enjoyable. Not the greatest sci-fi book I've read in the past year, but fun. If you like high stakes, sci-fi, X-Files-y stuff, and a bit of edginess, this might be worth a read for you. Just beware: it's a bit thick, weighing in at 464 pages.

Review originally posted here: http://tahleenreads.blogspot.com/2012/07/review-unraveling-by-elizabeth-norris.h... ( )
  Tahleen | Feb 16, 2014 |
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"If Janelle Tenner wants to avenge her father's death and stop 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"--

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