I am not sure why I kept putting off reading Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris, perhaps it was the cover as I am not entirely in love with it. Or maybe it was the length – Unraveling is very long and as many say – so many books so little time. Yet, when I started Unraveling I found myself totally caught up in the count down and the mystery and unable to set the book aside for any length of time. I found Elizabeth Norris’s debut young adult novel to be completely captivating and an interesting starter book for people interested in science fiction but not quite ready for ‘hard’ science fiction.
Janelle is a very driven young lady. She works as a life guard over the summer, makes good grades and basically takes on the role of parenting her brother, Jared who is 14. You see, Janelle’s mom is bipolar and her dad is addicted to work – he’s an FBI agent. So, Janelle has had to grow up pretty fast and so much responsibility has been placed on her shoulders. When a car comes careening out of nowhere at Janelle, she dies. But then, she’s mysteriously brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a boy who is kind of on the fringes of high school society. This is the least of her worries, you see she comes across a clock that’s basically counting down to THE END and so, she must join together with Ben to stop the timer and save Earth. Unraveling has a plot that is full of interesting twists, turns and reveals. It is best to go in without knowing any spoilers.
Janelle Tenner is one of those perfectionist types, yet she’s never annoying about it. She doesn’t come on as super intense at all. I actually ended up really respecting her and how she handles various situations in her life — from dumping a boy to doing research to solve the clock problem. Another great thing about Janelle is that she’s a total dork and likes reading science fiction but she isn’t portrayed as someone who is weird or has trouble fitting in. I loved that she was allowed to be unique and not punished for it.
If you get excited over science, chances are you’ll really enjoy Unraveling. It is one of those books that is not at all anti-science and actually shows that physics can be fascinating. Seriously, I am not at all a physicist or an expert in physics, but I thought the science aspects came across on an understandable and readable level. To me, I like when young adult books delve into matters beyond boys and kissing and do it in a way that doesn’t demonize intellectualism and science.
Probably my favorite thing about Elizabeth Norris’s debut is how authentic it feels. Although the book is science fiction, it is set in present time. I suppose you could say the book is contemporary science fiction. The teenagers who star in this book actually talk like real teenagers. There are swear words. There’s banter. There’s casual insults tossed around for fun. The characters have homework and hobbies. I thought that Norris just nailed what it means to be a teen in Unraveling.
I would personally recommend this book to people who enjoy young adult novels that incorporate scientific concepts, but maybe aren’t quite ready for outer-space focused or technology focused science fiction. With fabulous characterization, quick pacing, and high stakes, Elizabeth Norris has me on tenterhooks for the sequel to Unraveling. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine
Other reviews of Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris:
Tripping Over Books – “Elizabeth Norris is a SUPERSTAR.”
Respiring Thoughts – “I have extremely mixed feelings”
Young Adult Anonymous – “despite these usual signs telling me to ABANDON SHIP, the story moved briskly along”