Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Title: Unravelling
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: April 24th 2012
Pages: 445 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
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Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…

Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.

That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…

From spending the last eight years obsessing over Doctor Who, I'm a big fan of the science fiction genre. If you've read a few of my sci-fi reviews, you'll know that I'm absolutely rubbish with physics; I just can't get my head around it, which is why it's kind of weird how much I love this genre. From the synopsis I figured that there would be some action sequences and maybe a sci-fi element or two, but boy was I in for a surprise!

Janelle Tenner is your average teenage girl - well, as average as one can be with a father working for the FBI and a bipolar mother. But Janelle deals with it and manages to live a roughly normal life. That is, until a truck appears out of nowhere and runs her over, killing her instantly. Except she doesn't stay dead for long, and the first person she sees? Ben Michaels, known stoner of her school. But nothing is as it first seems - including Ben - and as an unstoppable countdown threatens the entire safety of the world, Janelle is going to have to learn to believe in the impossible.

First of all, characters - I loved Janelle. It's easy to make a heroine tacky and annoying, so I really appreciate it when an author creates a down-to-earth and likeable character, which is exactly what Janelle was. She did get a little bit Ben-obsessed ("I want to know Ben Michaels" x34548394), but he was pretty perfect, so who am I to judge? Overall she was just incredibly relateable, and I think she proved a great balance to the sci-fi theme.

Onto Ben...Ben, Ben, Ben. Oh Norris, I didn't need to fall in love with another character, but you just had to, didn't you? For a good half of the novel, Ben was a complete mystery - Norris gave us little titbits, little hints here and there to satisfy us, but not enough to make the plot twists obvious. And actually, I enjoyed Ben's part in the entire storyline. Not only was it unpredictable, but it was unique - and who am I kidding, the sexual tension between him and Janelle? Sizzling. Like, on-a-grill hot. And although I didn't want to see it end, I'm glad that the ending stuck to something quite realistic: it wasn't a cliché boy-falls-for-girl-and-won't-go-home kind of thing, so although it did make me cry, I was grateful to Norris for delivering that.

There is no denying that the concept is amazing. It's difficult to wrap your head around, but Norris managed to bring all that crazy physics stuff down to a level that teenagers can understand and enjoy. The plot was consistently thick throughout, and the action sequences were pretty incredible - incredible as in it was like Norris was creating a film inside my head; I could visualise perfectly what was going on, and there were a couple of times when I sat back and thought Damn, as a film, this would be on par with the likes of Chronicle and Cloverfield. Norris's writing isn't exactly lyrical, and it doesn't weave a beautiful picture for the reader - but what it does do is create a strong structure for a story, making any unrealistic elements life-like and believable, something that is critical with books containing fantastical themes.

There are a lot of things I want to say about Unravelling, but I don't exactly know how to put them into words. I feel like maybe I didn't appreciate this novel as much as I should have - a lot of trusted reviewers have given it five star ratings, and although I think it's a great book, it isn't breathtaking. There's nothing at all wrong with it, but there was just a spark missing, at least for me. However, I think this will appeal to a wide audience - you've got your romance, your action, your mystery, your sci-fi, your realistic problems, as well as a ton of teen angst; it just appeals to everyone, and I'm super excited to get my hands on the sequel, Unbreakable. As much as I loved the ending, there was a bit of a cliffhanger, and the only thing I want to know is whether Ben will keep his promise to Janelle or not. Personally, I hope that's a yes.
Rating: 4/5


  1. I think I prefer this cover than the US cover. I didn't like this book as much I thought I would, but I'll definitely be checking out the sequel. Awesome review!

    1. Yeah, so do I - which is rare, since I usually prefer US covers! Same; just something missing, I guess!

  2. This book sounds amazing! Definitely different than what I typical read. I definitely need to check it out.

    1. Definitely! It's pretty unique, and it really grabs your attention.