Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Posted 8 September, 2012 by Pushy in Blog, Bookworms, Featured, Pushy, Pushy Book Review, Uncategorized / 9 Comments

unraveling by elizabeth norrisUnraveling

Genre: YA Contemporary Science Fiction
Publication: April 24, 2012 by Balzar + Bray
Audiobook recieved from Harper Audio in exchange for an honest review
Get your own: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
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, 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.

Drama and mystery drive this compelling debut.

Start With The Unknown

Unraveling is a story with several layers of mystery. There’s the series of accidents Janelle’s father is investigating, some how linked to the bizarre hit and run that should have left her dead but didn’t. There’s the events of Janelle’s past, shrouded in memory loss, that stem from the loss of her former best friend. And then there’s Ben, the boy she hardly knows yet feels deeply connected to, the boy who just may have brought her back to life. All of these riddles swirl around Janelle and compel her, and through her the reader, to delve further, drawing us into the story in an effort to connect the dots and search for some sort of answer.

Add In Strong Characters

Janelle Tanner fascinated me from the get go. She’s one of a breed of YA toughies: strong, snarky, smart as a whip and tough as nails. Experiencing this story through her eyes is a definite treat because she’s the kind of person I would enjoy in real life.Ben Michaels shines as Janelle’s counterpoint, soft spoken to her frequent brashness, methodical to her spontaneous nature. Ben is in many ways the ying to her yang. Mix in the fact that he not only saved her but has been carrying a torch for her for years and the fact that a woman could drown in his eyes (yes, I can tell that just from his description in the book!) and I think you’ll find Ben as compelling as I did.

In a lot of ways, however, the secondary characters steal the show. Ben’s friends hang out on the fringes of the story, slowly moving further and further into the mix of it until the end, when they’re right at the heart of the action. I loved how that evolved! Janelle’s mom and her bipolar disorder are so well crafted but by far my favorite secondary character was Struz (a.k.a Ryan Struzinski, Janelle’s dad’s FBI partner) and the amazing relationship he had with Janelle’s family. These characters were well written and just plain interesting folks to spend time with.

Ratchet Up The Tension

I loved the device of starting each chapter with a timestamp from a countdown. Even before the reader knows what it stands for, it adds a subtle edge to the story, which I enjoyed. But the time element wasn’t the only thing that kept the reader’s nerves taught and moved the plot forward. The people showing up dead all around the city are certainly a big point of tension as is the mystery behind why Janelle and her former best friend are no longer friends. Lots of interesting sub-plots to keep the story moving.

But Don’t Leave Me Hanging

I know a lot of reviewers bemoaned the ending of the book, and the decision Ben makes, including my dear Danny who was left in tears over the ending! For me, that wasn’t a problem. In fact, I would have been upset if Ben hadn’t made the decision he did, it would have been too out of character from my point of view.

What did leave me flat was the fact that some of the story lines that I felt got a lot of attention, never really dovetailed back into the story and I was left feeling more like they were plot holes rather than mysteries left for the next book. Particularly the story line about Janelle and her best friend. I just don’t understand what the point of that was….

Still, as I write this review nearly 3 months after I finished reading this book, I’m still fascinated by the story and the possibilities that the second book holds. That alone earns it an awesome rating. Throw in the fact that Ms. Norris’s characters were superb and her ability to keep me hooked throughout all the twists and turns of this book, and you’ll excuse me for over-looking some of the items that gave me some initial pause.

Bewitched Rating


Bottom Line

Compelling, fast-pasced and fascinating on several levels, this book will hook you and leave you waiting to know more!



Get your own audiobook at Audible: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris (unabridged, 11hrs 2min)

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The narrator, Katie Schorr, did a fantastic job of bringing Ms. Norris’ characters to life and imparting the drama and mystery inherent in this book. And it’s such a compelling listen, this is a great choice for a long car trip. The miles will definitely fly!

Before you go, please let me know: did you read Unraveling? If so, how did you feel about the unresolved plot points. Did they bother you? Or were they just fuel for your desire to get your hands on the next book? Let me know!

Now go and get lost…in a book!
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Lover of words and authors; absolute fan girl of books! Give me a good story, with characters I can love (and hate) and I'll follow you anywhere. Sing me a song of worlds I can dream of, and I'll listen forever.

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9 Responses to “Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris”

  1. Great review, Pushy! I really enjoyed this book too and can’t wait for the sequel. I actually agree about the ending. I was a little heart-broken at the time, but think Ben’s decision was a good one. Not everything can be the perfect happily ever after some of us might long for. It would be a little boring if it was. πŸ™‚
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted..Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura BickleMy Profile

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    Pushy 9/8/2012

    Thanks, Sam!!! I had the odd experience of this book growing on me after I finished it. I just REALLY want to know what happens now! Thanks for stopping by!!!
    Pushy recently posted..Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth NorrisMy Profile

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  2. Three months ago? I don’t remember last week and I’m not talking about the books I read (don’t think I read any). If it’s still sticking with you then it must be good. But that ending, hmmm. I’m a cheat, I might wait until the next book is out before I read the first one so I don’t have to wait. But what a great review. I love the word toughies instead of Kick-ass. I might have to borrow that. Kick-ass is so worn out.
    Your review definitely makes me want to read this one!

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    Pushy 9/8/2012

    Thanks, Heather! I know it was a long while, it’s just I really wanted to give this one some time to simmer in my head. When I first finished it I was upset about the loose ends abut it’s a fascinating story and I truly am looking forward ot hte next one!

    And use toughies all you like, love! <3

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  3. Hi! New follower. Nice blog! πŸ™‚

    I’ve forgotten all about this book. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve been meaning to. Seems like a really good one. Maybe I’ll just borrow the audiobook from the library. Very well thought-out review!
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  4. I’ve been meaning to get to this book for months… and your review is just adding fuel to that fire. I’ve heard the mystery is excellent, I’m excited for strong characters and I can deal with the cliffhanger if the decision that’s made is indeed in character πŸ™‚ The minor hanging plot points give me pause but hopefully those will be resolved in the next book. Awesome review and good to hear that the audiobook was a good one, because I love my audible and have been considering getting this to listen to πŸ™‚
    Dani @ Refracted Light recently posted..Uncontrollable Blog Tour | Grace’s Wilderness Fashion GuideMy Profile

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  5. Hi Pushy,
    I absolutely fell in love with the story maybe two days ago when I began reading it. I definitely agree with you on the point that the second book holds endless possibilities for the story. Coincidentally, I wrote a book review just earlier today regarding Unraveling, and hey, maybe check it out?

    Grace Lo recently posted..Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth NorrisMy Profile

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