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I Belong

Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Title: Unraveling

Author: Elizabeth Norris

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: Unraveling (Book 1)

Publication Date: April 24th, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 445 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062103733 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13:  978-0062103734 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy


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.

Quick & Dirty: This book starts out slow, but before long it’s building suspense, tension, and raising the stakes until you can’t turn the pages quickly enough. With just enough romance to keep it sweet, this is a fantastic book for everyone.

Opening Sentence: I can tell the exact moment Nick steps onto the beach.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

This book takes the expectations for a young adult novel and punches you in the face with them. Norris defies a lot of clichés that are rampant these days. Yes, you have a teenage daughter who’s taking care of her younger brother like her mother should—but her mom isn’t irresponsible or anything like that. She’s bipolar, and Norris does a great job of showing the strain that can have on a family and the different kinds of coping mechanisms it brings with it. Norris does a great job characterizing in this story, both through some back story and the events that our characters have to fight through.

Janelle’s father is a workaholic. Head of the FBI’s counter-intelligence agency, his partner Strutz has become a part of the family. When her father’s case connects with Janelle’s car accident she can’t think it’s a coincidence–no matter what they tell her. Just like she doesn’t believe Ben when he lies about her having a near-death experience.  Janelle didn’t almost die–that truck ran her over. She knew she was dead. And Ben, a boy in school she’s never even spoken to, is there when she wakes up, fuzing her body back together.

But Ben’s not saying anything. He’s keeping his secrets close, because they aren’t only his secrets.  His friends have something to hide to. As Janelle grows closer to him his stoner-facade begins to fall apart. She sees the handsome and broody guy who tries to fade into the back ground.  Shuffled between foster homes, the only constant in Ben’s life have been his friends Reid and Elijah. And his obsession with fringe theories.  As Janelle is pulled deeper into Ben’s life their romance blossoms into a love, not the insta-love of other books but a gradual, understandable connection. And those kissing scenes? Yeah, they were fantastic.

Her father’s case grows more complex, and with every passing day time is running out. The countdown on an Unidentified Incendiary Explosive Device and the increasing number of radioactive burn victims is raising questions Janelle never even thought to ask. With her best friend Alex at her side, they delve into a world of bioterrorism, aliases, and murder that eventually lead Janelle right back her car accident–and Ben.

This novel hits the reader with a lot of information at the get-go, which is fine except that it takes about 50 pages to straighten it back out.  But once you get into this plot you aren’t going to want to put this book down.  It’s got a Fringe/X-Files feel to it as well as a lot of nerdy literature references, a lot of which are a great break from the countdown-to-the-end-of-the-world tension this book has.  The plot is complex and unique, but not hard to follow. I am very impressed to say that I couldn’t see what was coming next; many times I was pleasantly surprised to find a plot twist I wasn’t expecting.

You do not want to miss this book.  It has crime-drama, sci-fi, and a great romance thrown in.  I should warn that there is quite a bit of profanity, but it’s a realistic amount.  That’s really just the way teenagers talk. Go and add Unraveling to your TBR pile! I can’t wait to get my hands on Unbreakable in 2013.

Notable Scene:

“I know you’re lying,” I say again. “And it’s not just the usual tells, the stiffness in your upper body and the evasive eye contact and the slight change in the pitch of your voice. It’s more than just that. I have actual proof.”

His eyes widened as he looks up at me. He’s surprised, but not as much as he would be if he hadn’t done anything.

“When I was eleven, I did the La Jolla Rough Water for the first time. It’s a three-mile ocean swim from La Jolla Cove to Scripps Pier and back.  I didn’t finish, though. I was stung by a Portuguese man-of-war. It was a bad sting. The thing completely latched onto my shoulder and arm, and the venom was so bad, it got infected and left a weblike scar on my left shoulder.”

Ben’s face flushes with color, and I have the distinct impression he already knows about my scar.

I grab the neck of my T-shirt and pull it aside to expose my left shoulder, where the skin is completely smooth. The scar I’ve had on my left shoulder for the past six years is completely gone.

“Whatever you did, you did this too.”

The Unraveling Series:

1. Unraveling

2. Unbreakable

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Unraveling.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.

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One Response to “Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

  1. Amber HughesNo Gravatar

    Great review! I’m so looking forward to this one! I’m just impatiently waiting for Amazon to ship out my copy. I hope they ship soon! :-)

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