Thursday, 23 May 2013

Book Review: Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

24 meets the X Files in the biggest teen blockbuster of the summer…


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.

 “Humans have precious few instincts, but that's because we don't listen to them. We let logic and knowledge get in the way. My dad always said that when instincts are at war with something society has taught you, listen to your instincts first and ask questions later.” 

Unravelling was so nearly brilliant, there was so much to enjoy and admire about it. It is such an ambitious book and that ambition really paid off but in the end this book fell at the most important hurdle, characters.

I will start my break down of Unravelling on a positive note. The story itself is incredible and exactly the type of story I love. It kept me interested from the first page until the end. I thought it was exciting and full of action but it was also complex and clever. There was maybe, at times, a little too much going on and a few too many sub plots but it was still extremely impressive.

The writing was also of a very high standard. Norris’ world building was impeccable and I got lost in the world she created. I really liked the short chapters and the way they were presented as a countdown like in the TV series 24. There were a couple of times where I felt

corners were cut. Several conversations that explained major components of the plot were skipped and instead Janelle (the main character) explained them to the reader after. I would have much preferred to have the conversation played out.

As I have mentioned my main problem with this book was characters. Most of them I liked, Ben (the love interest) and Alex (the best friend) were my favourites and I thought they were both full rounded. I also liked all the supporting characters especially Janelle’s dad and his FBI buddies. There are a lot of characters in this book and Norris did a great job at making them all different and making them all fit.

My issue and unfortunately it was a big issue was Janelle. I really, really found her unlikeable. In fact I would go as far to say she was horrible. I had the overwhelming feeling that Janelle thought she was better than everyone else. The world appears to revolve around her and it irritated me. I hated the way she treated Alex, it was disgusting. She used him as a verbal punching bag and taxi service. She also puts her romance with Ben above everything else. She finds out that the world is going to end and people are dying, yet despite being told by everyone she refuses to inform the FBI or authorities. I just found her annoying and selfish.

The romance also failed to impress probably due to my feeling about Janelle. I didn’t quite feel the chemistry between her and Ben so the romance fell a little flat for me.

Unravelling is an amazing book about a horrible character. Despite that it was extremely readable and impressive.

3 stars

Published June 7th 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s Books. Images courtesy of Goodreads 

Review by Kate Phillips

1 comment:

  1. I found the writing for this book so addicting-that and the countdown were the elements that kept me going although I think I agreed with you somewhat about the characters.


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