Unraveling (Unraveling #1) by Elizabeth Norris
Rating: 4.5 stars
Right now, I found that I'm in the mood of science-fiction novels. So, after reading Dreamless by Josephine Angelini which was a very heavy book for me, in a much needed break I picked up Unraveling. As soon as I read the blurb I was like: yes! Unique characters, great! Science-ficition, awesome! Crime/mystery involved, exciting! Actually included physics in it, correctly written physics facts and structure names too! All the better! (Haha, you might be thinking: what a nerd! But really, I love Physics, you have ta give me that XD But I hate it when author who don't know what in the world they are talking about attempting to write a science-fiction with the technological stuff, get real and learn your stuff!)
I was instantly absorbed into the story of Unraveling. The first thing I found interesting was that instead of chapter numbers, each "chapter" was labelled by a set of countdown from the days accurate to the nearest second. So it was counting down towards the end of the book. Initially it started with something like 27 days, something hours, something minutes and some seconds I think (or something like that, sorry don't have the facts as I've already returned the book), and every chapter, it was counting down (though not the same intervals). I loved the idea of a countdown, it made me feel the pressure along with the characters as time passed by.
Another reason I really liked this book was because it involved a lot of things about the FBI. I have always been a crime/mystery fan and loved to read about solving a huge problem/mystery. The crux of the whole story was the main character Janelle Tenner had to solve a certain 'puzzle' (not literally) before the clock ran out and something terrible might happen. Janelle's Dad was the head of FBI counterintelligence and therefore Janelle learnt a great deal of being a detective from her Dad. She loved sneaking into her Dad's office to read files and try solving problems or giving ideas to her Dad about cases he hadn't been able to solve yet. Hence the whole point of her trying to solve this whole mystery (but there's a little more reason than that, which you will have to read and find out yourself). I learnt a lot more about FBI and crimes/crime scenes from this book, as well as other sciency stuff including innovative ideas about molecular structures (that was awesome!). The author was able to let me experience being a detective along with Janelle and hopefully try to figure things out before Janelle (though I didn't manage that all the time sadly).
I really liked the main character Janelle Tenner. I usually don't like the centre character as much, but in this case, I felt for her and understood her. Janelle was very independent, brave and smart. She had reasons to grow up fast and take care of her little brother Jared (as well as some other people). It's hard to take on the role of something of a parent of your younger sibling when you are not even truly expected to, but was force by circumstance. I felt sorry for her on that aspect and felt frustration and disappointment she sometimes had in her parents, especially her Dad. Aside from that, she also experienced other hardships that many girls may not necessarily be able to come to terms with. However, she was tough and knew what to do in certain situations and didn't let humiliation get the better of her. She was smart AP student (yay for having a smart girl as the main character and not just some girl who can do great bodily harm but can't figure out a simple Algebra problem). Her actions in the book and the way she conducted herself really warmed my feelings towards her.
Another character I couldn't go without in this book was Alex. He was Janelle's best friend. No matter what happened, he stood by her and listened to her. Believed her and believed in her when hardly anyone else would. He would do anything for her and also followed what she said in situations when she needed him. And he was always there when she needed him and took a lot of care of her (and vice versa). Janelle and Alex were lucky to have each other and have such a pure and trusting friendship. Another point, I liked how Alex was a geek (not completely but close enough) who pretty much aced all his subjects and love 'playing' FBI (while not exactly 'playing', I meant he helped Janelle a lot at figure out all the cases and problems).
Ben and Janelle's romance wasn't exactly as I expected, though some parts of it were easy to guess. However, I liked how they both took responsiblities and didn't rush in head first to anything. I also liked the trust and complete honesty Ben and Janelle had with each other. I really look forward to see whether there would be any more of them and if so, how in the next book.
In the blurb it said that "the stakes are even higher when someone close to Janelle was murdered" (or something along the lines). While, that one hit a bit too close to home. I really didn't like the choice of the character but knew that it was inevitable. I felt every bit of Janelle's pain over loosing someone close due to Norris' excellent writing (mostly).
The one thing that I didn't feel content with, and therefore probably pulled the book down for me was once again, the ending. Why can't YA book nowadays just finish with a decent end?! The ending killed it for me. I was so angry and frustrated, it wasn't even funny! When I finished, I had a rage. I didn't understand why the author did that and cried over the lost of some people. It was unforgivable! I think mostly she did that so that she could write a second book. But I seriously don't see how and what she is going to write about in the next. But if the writing is good and she keeps up her science goodies, I may be willing to give a try.
All in all, this is a book worth reading. Everything except the ending was great, if you haven't add it to your TBR list and is interested in science-fictions, you should definitely give it a go!
Synopsis from Goodreads
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, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
But her reincarnation, 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 one boy she never saw coming.