Reviews

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

alliehwilliams's review against another edition

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2.0

This is actually a 2.5 star read for me, which is unfortunate because the author is talented. I had a hard time getting into it but kept trying due to the positive reviews. I liked Janelle as a character and was sympathetic to her due to her family situation and how she just kept going. She was pretty ballsy, and did indeed remind me of Veronica Mars as has been mentioned by others. That is a good thing.

But I had a lot of trouble with her actions in the latter half of the book--not that I didn't approve of them--they just didn't feel believable to me with all that was going on. They did not ring true, and this was distracting. There was also a fair amount of telling vs. showing as far as emotional reactions to events on both her part and Ben's.

My biggest beef with this book though was the gratuitous profanity--specifically, liberal sprinkling of the f-bomb. I usually have zero trouble with cursing in books--in fact if it fits the character or the story, I might not even notice it. But the cursing in this book was so over the top it became comical, especially mixed in with declarations of love. And it contributed to my feeling that two of the male characters' voices were nearly indistinguishable from one another. It just wasn't necessary because the story was raw and dark enough without it and so it continually pulled me out of the action. Let's put it this way...if this book were a movie, a drinking game would follow.

Norris is a talented author, the plot and pacing were mostly tight, and the premise was intriguing (great cover art too, by the way). This title just did not deliver for me but I will try another of her books in the future and perhaps that will be a love connection.

michalice's review

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5.0

I have had my eye on Unravelling for a while and when the UK publisher contacted me I didn't realise it was the same book till I read the synopsis, so of course I said yes very quickly.  I will admit to having my copy for a while and have only just gotten around to reading it, purely for the fact I had other books to read prior to getting to this one.

What starts out as a normal day for Janelle soon turns out to be a life changing event, literally.  After being knocked over and killed by a pick up truck, and being brought back to life again, Janelle decides she needs to find out the truth about what really happened.  What started out as looking for answers soon turns out to be a hunt for a killer, investigating a mysterious countdown all while trying to keep her family safe.

Unravelling is made of awesome.  You may look at it and think 'time travel, not interested' but you would be so wrong in doing that.  While I do love time travel things I rarely read books about them as I find them boring, but Elizabeth has made it seem interesting in Unravelling, and even the technical talking about it still caught my attention.  Unravelling also has romance and crime and mystery thrown in to add to the story, and mixed all together you have an amazing read.  From the moment I started reading I really could not put this book down, I was hooked from chapter one and the plot just thickens the further I read. I HAD to know what was going to happen and I HAD to know who the killer was. and if it wasn't for work I would have finished it very quickly.

Janelle's Dad is an FBI agent and although Janelle knows what is right and wrong, nothing stops her from finding out the truth, even it it means she does a few illegal things, like break into her dads work laptop.  She is persistent and stops at nothing to discover the truth to try keep her family safe, and when it comes down to it, saving the world.

Janelle's friend Alex is the one person she can rely on and is the perfect friend anyone could have.  He is there for her when she needs him and has her back.  You would think that being so close that there would be some possible romantic interest between this dynamic pair but there isn't, and it leaves room for their friendship to really shine through without the continuous will they/wont they routine.  He lightens the mood whenever he is around and they counterbalance each other perfectly.  Alex's Mum is hilarious. Although she herself is not funny her whole strict attitude and set time for Alex to do school work made me laugh.  Alex even has to smuggle in caffeine and goes to Janelle's house for 'real' meals.

What I liked about each chapter was that is wasn't a heading in the usual way, it was the countdown to how much time was left so it made it easy to keep track of what was going on as the time came closer to the end.

I loved the English lesson and how Janelle is so cynical about love and romance and her response to a perfect proposal, which we later get to see spoken to her about how much someone loves her

"I want to say that she also said no. But it is Dickens. She probably said yes and lived out a miserable existence, because the evils of society pressured her into accepting such a ridicules man."


There are a few questions left unanswered at the end of the book regarding people in Janelle's life but not enough to spoil it or leave a major cliff hanger.  Setting this aside though I loved how Elizabeth has combined different genres, romance, science fiction, paranormal, mystery to make an amazing read.  The different concepts work wonderful together and although there are a lot of things going on, not one was I lost, confused or bored while reading Unravelling.  I am now very impatiently waiting the next book in the series, due for release next year.

nicholeb84's review against another edition

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3.0

This novel had some good points, but overall it felt cliched. The story started slow, than was rushed at the end. The characters - especially the side characters - also didn't have much depth. I honestly had a bit of trouble, at times, telling Ben's friends apart. I thought Janelle bordered on being annoying at times and I just didn't care that much for Ben.

All that aside, it was a quick read that was addicting; I finished in a day. I would give it a solid 3 and I'm interested in the second book.

baker16's review against another edition

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2.0

After the heroine was hit by a truck and killed in the first chapter, the book slowed to an incredibly slow pace. Although the long-lasting mystery of the story was intriguing, it was potentially boring. Much of the suspense in the story was just Janelle slowly gathering information through inactive means. Excluding Janelle's first near death experience, the story was rather uneventful until the last few chapters.
I really didn't see anything special about Janelle and Ben's relationship. Their relationship did not have time to flourish, thus it appeared very unrealistic and it made me want to gag. They didn't have any particular personality traits that would make them be drawn to one another. As a matter of fact, I cannot name three words that describe any of the characters in this book. The only thing I can tell you about Janelle is that she likes to swim. There was hardly any character development at all.
Elizabeth Norris could have been more imaginative when
Spoilerdepicting an alternate universe. The alternate universe Norris described was one that included birthday parties, pet dogs, modern games, modern technology, earth foods, and houses (with locks). Sound familiar?
Spoiler
To be fair, the heroine is likable and she does some pretty humorous things;
Spoilerlike when she beat up Sam and looked through her dad's case files. Both instances made me chuckle.

trid_for_kicks's review against another edition

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5.0

This was good. Really, really good. I can't believe that this is the author's first novel. There were a few plot holes, a few cliches, which made me tempted to remove one of my stars. But the positives outweighed the negatives by a landslide. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I'll just be as general as possible. The main character was great: she felt real, had real thoughts and reactions. From the first page, I knew I liked her.
SpoilerThe plot didn't rely on some stupid love triangle (or square, like I thought it was going to for a minute there), and there was still PLENTY of conflict.
The plot twists were unexpected sucker punches, always hitting at just the right time, and I didn't see any of them coming (which is unusual for me, believe me). About halfway through the book, I gave up trying to predict what would happen (since I was always wrong) and just sat back to enjoy the ride. Good book. 5/5 would recommend.

thejadylady's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

hiveretcafe's review against another edition

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4.0

4.5 stars! review to come!

reddyrat's review against another edition

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3.0

Unraveling is one of those books that is a lot of fun if you don't try to read too much into it. It is full of action and surprising twists and turns. The characters are intriguing and the romance is...well...romantic. Why am I sticking with such generic terms? Mostly because this isn't a book that breaks any new paranormal grounds. There's lots to criticize if you so choose, but you can also chomp it down with a smile like a bag of M&Ms.

Janelle is a hardened character. Because she often plays mom to her younger brother and her mentally ill mother, she is an independent, no-nonsense kind of girl. She's also nosy. Janelle comes back from the dead and simultaneously realizes that her father is working on a freaky FBI case, Janelle breaks into her father's files and tries to get to the bottom of the case herself. This is one of the instances in this book where you just have to shake your head and smile. A big honcho FBI agent has so little security on his files that it's relatively easy for his teenage daughter to get a hold of it? Really?

Now for our leading man, Ben Michaels. He is somewhat of a stereotypical paranormal trope. Loner, handsome, mysterious, is dangerous but is also super nice and in love. There's a reason this character type appears over and over again in YA novels. It works. I liked Ben. Especially as the book went on and we learned more about his background. He and Janelle made a good team.

The side characters were well written in this novel, especially Janelle's best friend Alex. He was a sweet, fun guy and I got a kick out of his crazy Tiger Mom. I especially liked Struz, the junior FBI agent who is a cross between an uncle and an older brother. This isn't an adult/teen relationship I see that often in YA novels, where the adult functions as an important role model but also isn't a substitute parent.

Above all else, Unraveling is an action oriented book. So much is crammed into 450 pages. It only took me a day or two to read. Danger is coming at the characters from all sides, from supernatural forces, to natural elements, to bad guys. The paranormal twist took me completely by surprise and is something that I haven't read before. (Other reviews say that the plot is too similar to Roswell, XFiles, or other sci fi shows, but I haven't watched any of them so it was new to me). The book is written in the present tense, which makes the book read much faster and gives the characters' problems an in-your-face urgency.

Unraveling is a good book. I ripped through the pages and at the end, I was eager for more. With a little distance between finishing the book and writing the review, I can objectively see that it is a good but not great book. While I was quite surprised by the plot, many of the elements are similar to every other paranormal book you've read. But that didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book while I was reading it. If you're a sci fi or a paranormal fan, I recommend picking up Unraveling.

Rating: 3 / 5

dreizehn's review against another edition

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4.0

Unraveling was an action-packed joyride of a book. Elizabeth Norris said in an interview that she wrote the book she wanted to read. I think a big chunk of the young adult audience will concur — this is a novel they want to read. Although I don’t think such a thing exists, I would say that Unraveling reads like a good science-fiction, FBI thriller, time-bending, heart-pounding, high-stakes teen movie peppered with family drama and romance. If that makes it sound like way too much is going on, I apologize, because Norris manages to pull it off.

It all starts with an unassuming teen girl hit by a pickup on the side of the road. She knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she died that day, and that a guy from her high school she’s never paid much attention to somehow brought her to life. But no one will listen to her. Who would? It’s such a crazy notion she’s sometimes not sure she believes it herself. But then other very strange things keep happening around her. Her father, an FBI agent, is stressed about a case that (upon further snooping) may somehow be related to her revival. And then there’s the clock — counting down until what could very well be the end of Janelle’s world.

I found the story to be really engrossing. Norris’ writing is engaging and keeps you turning the pages to see what can possibly happen next. The characters are great. I love the heroine, Janelle, and her relationships with the people around her are believable and relatable. The depth of her friendship with Alex is inspiring and you warm up to the romance with Ben even if you’re initially not so sure about the prospect. The action keeps your heart pounding and the mystery keeps you guessing until the end. The mind-blowing sci-fi twist leaves open many possibilities for the sequel.

Science fiction and thriller fans should definitely pick this up. I look forward to seeing where Norris takes us with Unbreakable in April!

hotmessmamareads's review against another edition

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2.0

Maybe 2.5 stars? Couldn't decide between 2 ("It's ok") and 3 ("Liked it"). The last half of this book really picked up steam for me and got going, largely because the plot really got rolling around then. I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi things, but I like to think that I enjoy snarky characters from time to time. I think my issue with this book has to do with Janelle herself. I think perhaps she was written with this hard edge, which I can appreciate, but for some reason it didn't quite translate as Veronica Mars-esque as some reviewers have stated. Instead, it felt more like she was kind of snotty from time to time. This made it difficult for me to get behind her as the MC and really root for her to "win" in the book. I found that it was a challenge for me to feel for her when the situation went from bad to worse. I sometimes didn't like how she treated other people (Nick, in particular), and I found it somewhat cliche that two boys would be physically fighting over her in the first chapter of the book. Aside from this, her "love" for Ben seems to spring up out of the blue, as a consequence of him saving her, maybe. This may not be true, but whatever the cause, her feelings for him develop a tad too quickly for me to find believable. Really, the plot in and of itself is interesting and that's what kept me reading for the last half. I was not too broken-up by the novel's end, probably because I didn't believe in the romance plot as much as I did the sci-fi storyline. I know this book is the first in a series, but I don't know if I will continue on with the next installment. I wasn't horribly disappointed, so I would potentially be open to reading book 2, but it won't be for a while yet.