Unraveling | Elizabeth Norris | Book Review

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.

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris | Good Books And Good Wine

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

The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. This one sounds fun. I need to read it. I actually had an ARC that I had borrowed for the longest time but never got around to it and felt quite guilty for keeping it for so long so I sent it back to its rightful owner. But I should definitely check out the library for this one. I like science-fiction and sci-fi lite. And brainy girls and all of that. Glad you gave this one a chance and liked it, April! It’s been on my radar forever, but I have absolutely no excuse for not picking it up yet other than being lame.

    • I think you’d really like it. It just seems like sort a you book. Plus, the romance is really cute. The plot is pretty fast as well.

      Hahaha, story of my life, being a loser and waiting around forever to read books.

  2. Glad to see you enjoyed this one so much, April! I read it as an ARC last year (probably exactly a year ago, actually–wow), and wasn’t a huge fan of the campy sci-finess of it all, and I think I went in with much to high expectations, but I’m planning on rereading it soon so I can read Unbreakable, so I hope I enjoy it more the second time around!

    • Hah, see I went in not expecting much because I am not at all a sci-fi person, so I ended up really liking this.

      I hope on your second time around you like it way more!

  3. Annnnnd I just checked out another book from the library. Seriously, I have no willpower, but at least it doesn’t cost me anything (as long as I return the books on time) to borrow from the library.

    Anyway, I have been meaning to read Unraveling for awhile, too. The whole part where Janelle is brought back to life makes me think of Roswell and I loved that first season of the show! Although I don’t think the rest of the book will be like Roswell, I am just too intrigued to not give it a try.

    And yay for Janelle being able to be smart and into science fiction and not portraying her as anti-social.

    • Bahahaha I love that! And yeah I love the library too and it’s low cost access to books. YAY.

      Hmmmm, I used to watch Roswell back when it was on cable but then stopped. It’s def worth a short.

      Janelle rocks, for sure.

  4. I read this in August of last year but had forgotten about it. It’s great to read your review and to be reminded the next book will come out soon.

  5. I haven’t read this one yet — but I have heard a lot about it. I think I’ve been avoiding it for the same reasons: it’s long, the cover, and there are so many other books I need to get through. But this review has really changed my mind. Janelle sounds just like a heroine I could get behind. I’m glad she’s not a social outcast too. Great review!

  6. Upon first glance, I didn’t think that this novel would be a good fit for me. But after reading your review, I think I might want to give it a try. There’s something majorly compelling about the sound of this story. Plus, I love the entire concept too!

  7. I’m so glad that you enjoyed this one, April! It surprised me with how much I enjoyed it because I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started it, but it wound up being way more and way better. The cover doesn’t really do it justice, lol. But I’m excited for the sequel!!
    The science parts were great too, right?! I completely agree with you: I’m not usually the one to seek out lots of hard science because I just can’t understand it easily, but Elizabeth Norris took some pretty advanced science and made it easily digestible. PROPS.
    HUZZAH for not demonizing science!!!

    • Yeah, that cover is crap. Like you, I am pumped up for the sequel. I am glad I have it on hand to dive right into.

      AHHH! The science was so bad ass, and also how they did all the research -so cool. I love that she made it easy to understand.


  8. The cover didn’t really grab me either but I decided to pick it up from the library and ended up loving it. Can’t wait for the sequel!

  9. The young age of the protagonist is making me wary, but the way you describe her makes me want to give the book a chance. This has been on my book radar for awhile, and maybe it’s time to bump it up the list a bit.