Wednesday, March 13, 2013

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Title: Unraveling
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Narrator:  Katie Schorr
Series: Unraveling, book #1
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Source: purchased audio/ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Sixteen-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.

This novel was exhilarating...and honestly, that's putting it kind of mildly.  I received an ARC prior to release last year, but I got backlogged and never got around to it.  But I never forgot about the book.  Fast forward to the present, when I'm seeing so many people showing their enthusiasm for the sequel, which releases at the end of next month, and I figured I'd better check out what all the fuss is about.  I still didn't have time to fit the book into my reading schedule, though, so I downloaded the audio a couple of weeks ago.  I listened whenever I could, but it still wasn't enough.  I wanted more of this book.  And so sometimes I caught myself pulling out the ARC and picking up where I'd left off on the audio.

Katie Schorr was an excellent pick for narrator of this book.  She really gets Janelle's dry wit and sarcasm and she nails those one-liners.  The narrator also portrays Ben perfectly as the quiet, reserved love interest.  Schorr seemlessly pulled off the witty banter between many of the characters.  I never lost track of who was speaking, and I never lost interest in the story...obviously.

I honestly don't know that I had any complaints about this book.  It was intense, fast-paced, and there was never a dull moment.  Add to that the X-Files references, the sarcastic but completely lovable heroine, and the intimidating countdown clock ("Stop the countdown.  Save the world."), and I don't think I could have found a book more suited to my tastes.  And the fact that the author didn't care who she maimed or killed off on her way to the end...well, there's really no question that this is one of the best debuts I've read, is there?
“Apparently this month is full of surprises. No one is as dumb as I thought they were.”
Janelle's family situation is, um, not great.  She's pretty much relegated to being the parental figure to her younger teenage brother.  At this point, she's kind of just surviving, day by day...she's not really living anymore.  But then a near-fatal confrontation with a truck that seems to have appeared out of thin air changes that.  Ben Michaels, a loner she's never spoken a single word to, resuscitates her.  And she suddenly has to know more about him.
  “And the way it felt?” I whisper, as if that might soften the blow of embarrassment I'm about to deal. “Is that how you were feeling - how you feel - about me?”
   A breeze comes off the ocean, and my skin feels strangely empty and open as he gives an almost imperceptible nod.
I actually liked the relationship that develops between Janelle and Ben, despite how creepy he might have seemed in the beginning.  Ben's been watching J for years, maybe even been in love with her for years, which  appeared a bit stalkerish at first.  But ultimately, Ben proves himself a decent guy, even if his friends come off as complete douche-nozzles.  Back to Ben and Janelle, though.  Sincerity and honesty rule what's blossoming between them, and I am 100% on board with that.  There's little to no confusion about feelings between these two...they leave that all for the end of the world stuff.
   “So your perfect proposal, what would it be?” Ben asks.
   “Seriously?”...“I don't know. It would just be the two of us, and I guess I'd want him to say something honest, not overly romantic, not something that would make a great story to tell his friends. I'd just want him to lean over...” As I say it, I lean slightly toward Ben, close enough that I can feel the warmth of his body radiating into the empty space between us, and drop the volume of my voice. “... and say 'Janelle Tenner, fucking marry me.'”
Speaking of, I love the countdown clock, the sense of urgency it produces and how as time runs out, so does the story unravel.  Such a fitting title, if you ask me.  No big reveal.  Just clues to the bigger puzzle, bit by bit.  And every second of it was worthwhile, even if we did lose some peeps along the way.
“Is it wrong I'm hoping we'll get at least one diabolical monologue from a bad guy?”
I don't know how else to express my love and excitement for this book.  It ended on a note that left the reader with questions, but it could have sufficed as an ending.  Though, I am terribly, horribly excited that Unraveling was only the first book in the series.  I'm not yet ready to leave these characters behind.  And I have hopes that some, um, situations from this book might yet be remedied in the sequel.  Now, though, I'm off to read Undone, a novella from Ben's POV.

Rating:   photo 5-1.png


  1. I'm glad you loved it. Great review!

  2. Just realized the main character has my name (even if she spells it different)- gasp! Never found a book before with a character that has my name. I keep hearing about this book and it's squeal, too, but haven't read it. Definitely need to get on that.

  3. Dang it! The ARC has been sitting on myshelf too. You've inspired me to get it off BUT I'm going to check the library for the audio first ;) so excited!

  4. Oh I read this last year and loved it! THe ending was a killer though. I cannot wait to see how everything plays out in the next book and hopefully somehow a certain character will be back, at least you don't have long to wait now for the sequel.

  5. I have had this one on my kindle for such a long time and now I know I need to pick it up asap! Great review, you always make me mess up my nice and neat list of books I need to read and in what order because after reading your reviews I change it all up!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  6. I have read many amazing reviews for this book but yours is my favorite. Amazing review. I love the picture of the baby, I love love love the quotes you picked. I have been wanting to get to this book too but just havent found the time. I need to change that right now. It sounds so amazing. I need the audio for sure!


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