Saturday, May 3, 2014

Unraveling: Creepy Sci-Fy Thriller

Title: Unraveling
Series: Unraveling #1
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 24th, 2012
Format: Paperback
Genre: YA; Romance; Sci-Fy, Thriller,
Rating: ✎✎✎✎


Sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle's mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.

And that was before she died... and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth's destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet.

My Thoughts and Reflection:

I won a signed copy of Unraveling a while ago, but as per usual never got around to reading it.  I made a vow a couple of weeks ago to not go to the library until I'd put at least a semi reasonable dent in the books I own but haven't read yet.  I've done pretty well, except as you know have since contributed to the books I own but haven't read yet pile (Powell's Extravaganza).  Anyway, so I went into Unraveling pretty much blind.  I'd seen it floating around the blogsphere since before it's release, but hadn't even read the blurb.

We open the book with a completely irrelevant quote from Robert Frost.  And from is most widely known poem too.  I'm not even going to go into the details about how I feel about this.  I think that you get my drift.  So, moving on, page one.  A clock at the top reads 24:00:14:32.  It's obviously a countdown.  (A little side note, I really liked how the numbers faded from left to right, signifying the movement of time, I assume).  We're already not off to the best of feet (foots?) but then it just gets worse.  The first sentence is about a guy.

Maybe I'm picky, but when I start a story, yeah I want to know about the situation that our characters is currently in, but mostly I want to know about them.  How they are feeling, what they are thinking about.  Anyway, I have to sit through several painful pages where our protagonist Janelle goes on and on about his guy Nick.  Quickly, that scene ends and move onto the scene where Janelle, our protagonist dies.  Then she wakes up.  Now the fun begins.

After the painful beginning the book moved at an exciting pace.  Janelle's interesting family dynamic, (although just the tiniest bit cliché) is introduced.  FBI dad, bipolar mom, younger brother that she practically has to raise.  All of that aside, the addition of the neighbor best friend Alex the colleague of her dad who practically lives with them were nice touches.  Thankfully, Janelle moves on from the weirdo and pretty much unnecessary character Nick.  Janelle is much more focused on on the guy that she is pretty sure brought her back to life.

After a while though, the book just starts to get weird.  The concept of the alternate realities and the radiation poisoning doesn't fit together like this magic puzzle as I assume Elizabeth Norris imagined.  The ended was downright bizarre.  So many unneeded things happened, and the last few pages felt over crowded.

Despite how much the plot and other details irked me, I was really fond of the way that Elizabeth Norris portrayed all of her characters.  They all felt so real to me, and it was fun to see how balanced the secondary characters were too.  Ben and his crew of friends were my favorites!  Their friendship dynamic reminded me a little of Gansey and his crew from The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stievfater.  The romance in this book wasn't completely absent, but it didn't over take the story either.  It wasn't quite as balanced as it should/could have been, but it was ok.
Janelle isn't the normal heroine that we see so often in YA.  She was flawed, she was human, and she worked with other people to meet her goals.  I hadn't realized it before, but there isn't lot of team work in all of our dystopias and other YA books. Interesting…

My favorite relationship was the friendship that Janelle had with her neighbor Alex.  It was so refreshing to have a guy-girl friendship so strongly presented in a book where there is zero mention of romance between them.  I kept waiting for a love triangle, but it never came.  Thank god.

There were a lot of things that irked me about this book, but all of that aside, I was really impressed with Elizabeth Norris's characters, and probably will be perusing the sequel.

Dust Jacket Ramblings:

I don't even think that you should get me started on how much I dislike this cover.  It almost prevented me from picking it up.  The models are wayyyyy to cliché and NOTHING like the characters described in the book.  The font is cool and I like the numbers in the background.  I'm not usually a fan of models on book covers, and this book is one of the examples of why.  I do believe that models on book covers can work well, but this is NOT the way to do it!  It summarizes pretty much zero of the story except that there is a girl and a guy in it.  There are a slew more of important characters. Ugh it just is so frustrating! Okay, I'll stop now.

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