Title: Unraveling (Unraveling #1)
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Published: April, 2012 by Balzer & Bray
Purchase: The Book Depository
pSixteen-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.
Coming off the back of a not-so-riveting read, I jumped right into this and got hooked. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line things soured a bit for me and all of the promise I had seen in the earlier chapters started to fade away. Plus, certain things irritated me like the instaluv, and main character, Janelle’s constant use of the saying ‘because I’m like that’. Yes, I got that she was like that, but I got to a point where enough was enough and I just couldn’t go on agreeing with her blindly simply because she was the main character.
When it came to the end of the world plot, I was hoping for something with a bit more gravitas, but maybe that was just me. It’s not that the stakes weren’t high enough—in the end they were. I think it’s more that there was no face to the threat. The ticking clock did little but enforce that the book was on a deadline. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that the danger actually got amped up enough to make it feel more real. For the majority of the page count it appeared to be more of a mystery with Janelle running around playing amateur detective.
Back at the beginning I was on board with her antics as she came across quite strong, cunning and self-reliant, but the romantic detours every now and then derailed her likeability. These people had known each other for a matter of days and there were already declarations of love and acting like they could not exist without one another. Yes, I get that some people go for that stuff, but it just made me roll my eyes and think ‘come on, next chapter already…’
The family dynamic throughout this novel was one of the shining qualities, however. It grounded Janelle a bit, and I think helped me in not outright disliking her. In fact, I actually enjoyed all of the family stuff. There was a career-focussed and X-Files addicted father, his subordinate—who he may or may not have been involved with on the side (just me speculating here…), a bipolar mother—one which got shipped off out of the picture way too often in order to keep Janelle unencumbered, and a moody younger brother that Janelle would shut out of things of importance wherever possible.
There was a lot of potential in this book, but it fell short of it, at least for me. It was by no means a slow book, but I just didn’t get that giddy, excited feeling that I experience whenever something really speaks to me and makes me obsess over the wellbeing of the characters. I’ll probably continue with the series for the sake of closure, but I’m in no rush to find out what’s in store for Janelle and Co.
Don’t let the high page count put you off. It may not have been the best book I’ve read this year, but I still flew through it.